CHESTER manager Mark Wright is angry that a leak may have scuppered his chances of signing Manchester City winger Chris Shuker.
He watched him play for City reserves on Tuesday, hoping to do a deal with the Premiership club, and was upset to read about it in the newspapers.
'I was really annoyed that this got out,' he said. 'It means lots of clubs will now be on to him.
'We had watched him and talked to him, but now I don't know what's going to happen.'
The diminutive Shuker has been at Rochdale on loan for a spell this season, making 15 appearances and scoring one goal and has made a handful of appearances for City's Premiership team.
Wright saw him score a penalty for City reserves on Tuesday and was impressed.
'He is quick, goes past people and gets crosses in,' he said. 'He would be a big asset for us if we could get him either on loan or permanently.'
Shuker would be seen as a replacement for Jon Brady, who has left the Deva to join Arsenal as a coach for their under-16 players, but Wright had already targeted him before the Brady move came to light.
'We are sorry to see Jon Brady go, but he had a good offer and we couldn't stand in his way,' added the City boss, whose staff has now been reduced by two with the release of Mark Beesley, who had earlier rejected a move to Northwich Vics.
Wright wasn't optimistic he could clinch a deal with Manchester City in time for tomorrow's home game against mid-table Stevenage Borough, who were many people's tip to go up this season.
It hasn't turned out that way yet, but Wright has a lot of respect for them.
'They are a big, strong outfit who like to bully teams,' he said. 'Every game is hard for us now because all teams come to us and shut up shop.
'It's hard when teams give us so much respect, but they can be very negative.
'We have been accused of being negative, but it's not us, it's our opponents, and I hope our fans will be patient if we don't get away in the first few minutes.'
Stevenage, who were knocked out of the FA Cup at Swansea last weekend, have a dangerous striker in 14-goal Anthony Elding, one of the Conference's leading scorers, while only three teams have conceded fewer goals.
Manager Graham Westley has been critical of Chester's style this season, but this week he was keen to praise them.
'They are a fantastic side,' he said. 'The strongest that we have faced. We had a really tight tussle with them on the opening day and their record since then speaks for itself.
'They are unbeaten at home in the league but we can't let ourselves worry about that. Every record gets broken sometime.
'It will be a great test of how far we have progressed since turning full-time in November.'
Jamie Heard is under treatment for an ankle injury sustained at Halifax, but otherwise City have no suspension or injury problems as they bid to extend their unbeaten run to 19 matches.
Chester have opened contract talks with Wayne Brown, Carl Ruffer, Scott Guyett and Michael Twiss.
Chester reserves thrashed Guiseley 14-2 at Flint on Tuesday. Dean Buckley led the rout against the 10-man York-shire side with four goals. Chester meet Burscough at Flint on Tuesday (7.30pm).
Half-season tickets are still available at the Deva Stadium during normal office hours.
Liverpool's Barclaycard Premiership Reserve League match against Bolton at the Deva Stadium has been brought forward 24 hours to next Wednesday (7pm).
City fans have the chance to win VIP tickets for the Boxing Day match against Leigh RMI in a Flag Day tomorrow. The owner of the best club flag at the Steven-age game will win tickets in an executive box for the Christmas match.