By Tony Leighton
After automatic promotion last season, Shrewsbury Town are battling to stay in npower League 1 but defender Joe Jacobson is confident that relegation can be avoided to provide the opportunity for further consolidation next term.
The Shrews have spent practically the whole of the current campaign in the lower reaches of their new division and Jacobson told football-league.co.uk: "I think there is a quite a bit of difference between League 2 and League 1.
"You look at some of the players playing in this league - players like Alan Smith at Milton Keynes Dons - who have played in the Premier League for long periods and I think this division is a lot stronger than League 2 was for us last season.
"But we've signed a lot of good players as well - nearly everyone in our squad has played in this division or higher before, so it's not been too much of a problem although we knew from day one that this season was going to be tough."
Tough it has certainly been for the Shrews, though during a run of three wins in four games last month they seemed to be heading towards mid-table safety. But two straight defeats have left them just four points above the drop zone.
Former Bristol Rovers and Oldham Athletic player Jacobson, who as a youngster captained the Wales Under-21 team and joined Shrewsbury from Accrington Stanley last summer, admitted: "We're in a relegation battle.
"There's us and seven or eight other teams trying to get out of trouble. We know we need to start picking up better results - after a couple of good wins we've slipped back a bit and now that gap between us and the bottom clubs has closed.
"But we'll go again and with 10 games left - 10 big games - we need to get as many points as we can. We know that teams around us will pick up points, but if we win the games we need to it doesn't matter what anyone else does.
"Of the top six teams we've only got Bournemouth and Yeovil Town left to play, but it's the games against your Carlisle Uniteds, your Oldhams, your Portsmouths - the teams in and around us - they're the most important matches.
"If we can pick up victories against them, or stop them beating us, then you're pulling away and the games start to run out for them. Every game is going to be tough, but I believe that we'll be good enough to stay up.
"We're more than capable of doing it in terms of the players and the staff at the club. We're enjoying every minute despite how hard this division is. Now we just want to finish the season off properly, get safe and start again next season."
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