MICHAEL Branch may have lost the City captaincy but he is praying he has not lost the support of the fans.
The striker was sent home from the Saunders Honda Stadium last Friday after a difference of opinion with Blues boss Mark Wright. It was subsequently reported that the 27-year-old had walked out on the club.
But even though Branch missed the 1-0 defeat at Darlington a day later, he was back in training this week, with both manager and player insisting the 'bust-up' was blown out of all proportion and that he never quit Chester.
However, Branch is wary of the reception he will receive from the fans if he plays in tomorrow's home clash with Cheltenham Town - and that is why yesterday he broke his silence by talking to the Chronicle .
He said: 'I don't know how it got out that it was a bust-up, because it wasn't that. These things happen at football clubs and we're all grown men. It's frustrating that it got out because I would have liked it to stay in-house.
'The way it came out on the radio didn't put me in the best light, but it's done now and I've got to accept it.
'As long as the gaffer's happy with me, and the players, and now the fans will know too, I hope it'll be fine.'
Branch was appointed skipper in the summer by former Chester chief Keith Curle. He hands over the captain's armband to Stewart Drummond, who has led City in their last two matches.
Branch said of Wright's decision: 'I can concentrate on my own performances and it could be a burden off my shoulders.
'I'm very happy for Stewart because he's been performing consistently week-in, week-out, and he'll be a good leader.
'I'm committed to Chester and keeping us up.'
Wright - who signed Branch from Bradford City in June 2004 - said it was in the forward's best interests that he did not travel to Darlington.
However, having watched him in training this week, he feels Branch is ready to put the episode behind him.
Wright said: 'By his own admission his head wasn't right. I told him to go and get it right and that he wouldn't be involved at the weekend. It was my decision.
'But the positive thing about it is that we've pulled him back in. He's trained well and he wanted to play in the reserves on Wednesday, but it was called off.
'All I want is the Michael Branch I signed before I left. If he's positive then he's a major plus. But you've got to get inside people's heads.
'The captaincy has been taken off him and I think he feels better for it, because it's a lot of pressure on someone who is not as vocal as what you'd want a captain to be.
'He's back with us and will be considered for selection.'
Wright this week also supported Ryan Lowe's decision to apologise to City's away support at Darlington, after the top-scorer made a V-sign to a section of fans who were seemingly barracking the Blues.