>A Matter of Balance

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Christian Smith’s suspension leaves Dean Saunders with no option but to wrestle with an issue which is coming to define our season: the balance between defence and attack.

He knows that in Smith and Andy Fleming, a pairing who have been fixtures in the centre of midfield for a while now, he has a duo who offer admirable protection to our defence but are less effective creatively.

He might be tempted to take a chance and select a more inventive player, but that nagging doubt which always afflicts managers is there in the back of his head: can he afford to? Defeats get managers sacked, and whereas it’s easy enough for us armchair experts to urge approaching games with abandon (after all, it works for us on Football Manager 2010!) it’s not so easy to let go when your head’s on the block.

But will Saunders grasp the nettle now? Lacking Smith for three games, two of which are at home, offers him a chance to be more progressive. Of course he has a wide range of central midfielders to choose from, having collected them as obsessively as a ten year old schoolboy amasses Match Attax cards (and believe me, that particular line of acquisition is just as expensive!) As their names suggest, Tsiaklis and Taboubi represent the more exotic option, while Fairhurst would be a safe pair of hands. An option I don’t expect to see Saunders take would in many ways be the most intriguing though, and would certainly go down well with many Wrexham fans; does he dare to unleash Mark Jones in a central role?

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