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Bug blow to Dragons' game plans

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith has seen his preparations for the Madejski Stadium clash against Reading tonight hampered by a stomach bug.

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith has seen his preparations for the Madejski Stadium clash against Reading tonight hampered by a stomach bug.

Smith will be without midfielders Darren Ferguson and Stephen Thomas who were both taken ill after the 3-1 home defeat against Cardiff City on Sunday.

And the Red Dragons' manager believes the bug played a part in his side's lacklustre display against the Bluebirds.

"Darren and Stephen were not feeling good during the Cardiff match and that would explain their performances which were below par," said Smith.

"Darren was certainly not playing to his usual standard. Our plan was to get the ball out wide early, but the central midfielder players weren't doing that.

"There seems to be a bug going around this club at the moment and it's hitting people at the wrong time.

"Losing these players is a blow. Darren and Stephen are very big players for me, but we've got to see what we can do without them."

Following two successive league defeats - against Huddersfield and Cardiff - the Red Dragons have fallen to last but one in the table.

Smith is hoping his side can recapture the form that brought three wins and a draw when he first arrived at The Racecourse last month.

"Is my honeymoon period over? My honeymoon will be over when I leave the club," replied Smith.

"While I'm at Wrexham, and I could be here 10 years, 10 months or 10 weeks, I'm going to enjoy every single minute of it. It will always be a honeymoon for me.

"We've had a few poor results recently but we're still upbeat here. I've said to the players that if we keep working together then at the end of the season we won't be in the position we're in at the moment.

"I can get despondent about things. It doesn't do you any good. I've got to be positive and so have the players

"The clubs we've lost to are bigger than us. We've got to beat the smaller clubs to stay up. I think Huddersfield and Cardiff will be up there next May. I'll be surprised if they're not.

"Against Cardiff we were on top until they scored their first goal. Stephen Thomas is upset about it. He should have put the ball into row Z. If he had done, there wouldn't have been a problem.

"But he didn't and they scored from his mistake. But he'll learn from that.

"(Graham) Kavanagh got their second before half-time and it was a magnificent goal. That's what you pay £1m for. After that we were chasing the game."

Added the former Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Oxford United and Bristol City manager, "We will stay up this season.

"But next season we've got to compete with the big clubs otherwise there's no point being involved. Accepting the bigger clubs are going to beat you is simply not good enough."

The big-spending Royals, who lost last season's Second Division playoff final to Walsall, will move up to fourth by beating Smith's side.

But Alan Pardew's team has been erratic on home soil - Cardiff, Swindon and Brentford have all won at the Madejski Stadium this season and bottom club Bury left with a point.

After an indifferent start to the campaign Pardew is under pressure, but that eased a little on the weekend following Reading's 2-0 win at Northampton thanks to goals from their feared strike pairing of Martin Butler and Jamie Cureton.

"Unfortunately for us Reading seem to be getting back on track," said Smith.

"They've been up and down this season but now they look like they're getting it together."


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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