WITH a hectic Christmas fixture list ahead of the Brewers, Dino Maamria says that he will have to look after the walking wounded in his squad.
The Brewers travel to Wrexham tomorrow in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy with the manager eager to book a place in the last 16 of the competition. But he has accepted that it’s a juggling act in terms of team selection with an important league game at home to Stevenage on Saturday and five more League One fixtures to play after that by New Year’s Day.
Maamria said: “November was not nice in many ways. We have had injuries, stop-starts, cup games and it was good in some ways not to have a game on Saturday as we have players carrying niggles and we want a full squad to pick from.
“There is danger when players have been out for a long time (like Cole Stockton and Sam Hughes). You have to be careful with them in the first couple of weeks as you don’t want any setbacks. We needed to look after Sam against Portsmouth because he is a big player for us.
“Wrexham is a game we want to win but we have a few carrying injuries and it’s about getting the balance right and considering also the game against Stevenage on Saturday.”
Another player who needs to be eased back is John Brayford.
“I would like him to be involved tomorrow so he’s full on ready for Saturday,” said Maamria. “He will play some part at Wrexham as he has trained well, and he will be ready."
Maamria says that it’s difficult to know what to expect from Wrexham as it’s often guess work in this competition.
He said: “I have been managing teams in this competition for several years and the one thing I have learned is that you can’t prepare for the opposition as you never know what kind of team they are going to play.
“At Stevenage we put a strong team out against Swansea U21s and it was a complete mismatch. The second game was against Charlton and we played a young team as we thought Charlton would do the same and they played a fulll team and we lost by six or seven
“All we can do is focus on us. What is the best team for us to start to win the game as the opposition could do anything. They could change ten players, six players or none.
“Wrexham have a strong squad so we will play the best team we can without risking players who if they start tomorrow will not feature on Saturday.”
Kwadwo Baah is one of the players being eased back after injury, as is Cole Stockton who has had hip flexor issues after returning from a long lay off. Josh Gordon has a calf problem.
“There is one or two I have to think about,” said Maamria. “But I know both teams will go for it. It’s a competition where there is a Wembley final and that would be brilliant for the football club.”