WREXHAM veteran Kevin Russell last night revealed how he was getting to grips with management more quickly than he would have expected, as a result of the illness which has confined Racecourse boss Denis Smith to his bed for the best part of a week.
And the 35-year-old admitted that he was enjoying his new role, even though he finds himself at the centre of the club's battle against relegation from the second division.
"You could say that I've been thrown in at the deep end with Denis being off, which could not have come at a more difficult time, but all the players have responded well and it's been a great experience and one that I'm enjoying," he said.
"Sometimes it's worse than actually playing because it's not simply a case of analysing your own performance but looking at everyone's, so it's a much bigger picture."
Russell, who began the transition from player to coach last October when Joey Jones turned down an offer to become Smith's right-hand man, found himself in charge for the first time at Oldham Athletic on Saturday, where skipper Brian Carey was sent off and Wrexham went down 3-1.
And he saw no reason to change his immediate post-match view that the result was somewhat harsh.
"Looking back, there's really nothing I would have changed," he insisted. "Our performance was good, although our finishing and decision-making in the final third of the field could have been better. Tactically, I thought we were spot-on and that was proved when they changed their system to cope with the way we were playing.
"That's what most frustrates me because we have done well in the past couple of matches, but the weekends have been spoiled by the results.
"Having said that, the lads have come in for training and worked very hard and we have to maintain a positive mood because, eventually, the results will turn in our favour."
Russell confirmed that Wrexham are almost certain to appeal against Carey's red card dismissal for a foul which referee Mark Cowburn said had denied Oldham's Stuart Balmer a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
With one sending-off behind him already this season, Carey could be banned for up to four games for the red card, whereas a yellow - his second of the game - would result in a one-match suspension.
On a brighter note, utility man Kevin Sharp has resumed training this week and could be given a run-out in tomorrow's Avon Insurance League Cup game against Kidderminster Harriers at the Racecourse (7pm).
Sharp, who can play on the left of the defence or midfield, has missed four games because of a calf strain and Russell said his experience had been missed.
"He's struggled to shake off the injury, which was more serious than we first thought, but he's on the way back now," he said. "For seven of the team we put out against Oldham on Saturday, this can be said to be their first full season of league football, which makes it hard for us.
"But if we can turn the results round, as I'm sure we can, the experience they have gone through will stand them in good stead in their future careers."