WREXHAM skipper Brian Carey is a definite non-starter for tomorrow's home match against Tranmere Rovers after having five stitches inserted into two wounds just above his right ankle on Saturday.
The central defender was injured after 27 minutes of the match against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Withdean Stadium and was on crutches when the Red Dragons boarded the coach for their journey home.
Manager Denis Smith, who picked up plenty of hard knocks during his playing career, said afterwards: "Brian has two nasty, nasty cuts in the bottom of his legs. He was caught by studs and he's had stitches put in.
"It's a long time since I've seen a real bad one like that," he added, before joking: "But you couldn't see the bone, so they weren't proper cuts."
Physiotherapist Mel Pejic later contradicted the Dragons' boss, pointing out that the puncture marks had indeed gone to the bone, but while Carey will be missed, the performance of 19-yearold replacement, Shaun Pejic, must have been a source of pride for his father.
"There are always positives and young Pejic has come in and done a great job," said Smith. "I thought everyone in the back four did well."
But he was disappointed that his players had not taken all three points, a feat not achieved by any Saturday visitors to Brighton since they took up residence at the Withdean Stadium two years ago.
"To get a clean sheet is pleasing and we've been playing well of late," he said. "We are just disappointed we didn't get the three points we were hoping to get. We had a couple of breaks in the second half when I thought we possibly should have done a little bit better."
Smith said it was little consolation to have outplayed a promotion-chasing side. "Everybody has been telling me how well we've been playing, including the opposition, who always say we are one of the best teams they've seen, but in the end we need the points to prove that.
"I think our performances have been quite good of late. I thought we were very unfortunate to get beaten last week. We'd won the previous two. We could have won the two before that, which we drew. At the moment, we are possibly one of the form teams in the league but we've got to keep that going until the end of the season."
And he declined to comment on a controversial first-half incident that might have resulted in the dismissal of home goalkeeper Michel Kuipers. "I think you'd better ask the referee about that," he added.
"I'm not going to get involved with refereeing decisions. Some go for you, some go against you and generally they go against you when you are down at the bottom."
Smith admitted that he was slightly concerned that Wrexham are not creating many clear-cut scoring opportunities, saying: "I wanted to win. I've looked at their team on paper and they are good solid pros but they are not really any better than the players that I've got at Wrexham.
"Brighton have done tremendously well but we cancelled each other out so I'm disappointed we didn't take one of our chances."
And he conceded that things might have been different had home striker Bobby Zamora not been suspended. "I'd be silly to deny that if you have a goalscorer like Zamora, the fact he is missing would be a bonus for any team."
But he added: "I don't know what might have happened if he had played, he might have given a silly back-pass and we'd have won 1-0. All I am concerned about is that we have come here and performed."