DEAN KEATES insists his Wrexham side will be well-prepared for their ‘massive’ cross-border derby clash with Chester on Wednesday.
The Reds boss says that an enforced 10-day fixture break has served his side well in terms of fitness and player recovery.
But Keates admitted to being impressed by the manner of Chester’s impressive comeback against Eastleigh and is wary of Marcus Bignot’s side.
Keates said: “The break has done the lads a lot of good, I think, and it’s given us a chance to rest a few weary legs and get some much-needed rest in.
“There are one or two lads who were struggling a bit so this time we’ve had without a game has allowed us get over a few knocks here and there.
“The other way to look at this situation is that we’ve lost game time, while Chester haven’t which isn’t ideal.
“But we don’t live in an ideal world and we have to deal with it, especially because of the way Chester did so well to come back against Eastleigh at the weekend.
“I’ve watched the video of that game and they showed a lot of character to respond in the way they did and dug in to pull themselves back into that match.
“They created a lot of chances there and deserved to come away with the point they got.
“No doubt that will be a huge positive for them to take into the game on Wednesday and is something for them to build on.”
Currently third in the National League standings, Wrexham could feasibly move level with league leaders Dover Athletic with a win at their arch rivals.
The Reds’ lofty position stands in marked contrast to the lowly Blues who are mired in the bottom four.
The respective fortunes of the two clubs have seen the Reds emerge as realistic promotion contenders, while Chester could be set for a relegation battle.
Keates would not be drawn to comment on Chester’s plight, in a campaign that has seen managerial upheaval at the Blues and just three wins from their 18 games this term.
Instead, the Reds manager preferred to focus on the excitement and tension engendered by the eagerly-anticipated fixture.
“Obviously a lot’s happened at Chester in the early part of this season and I’m sure things haven’t gone the way their fans expected or hoped” he added.
“But it’s not for me to comment on what goes on there or to talk about their results.
“My job is to focus solely on Wrexham Football club and try to bring success here by winning games like the one on Wednesday.
“Everyone knows what this game’s about. It’s a massive derby for the people at this football club, for all of our fans and for everyone in the town.
“Obviously, it’s a game you look out for because of what it means to everyone here and the extra importance of a derby.
“But as a manager I’ll be treating it just like all of our other league games this season, making sure our preparation and focus is right and trying to come away with a positive result.
“It’s hard to say what type of game it’ll be in terms of Chester’s approach to it, but both sides will be desperate to do well.”
Wrexham’s last outing, a 2-2 draw at home to Leyton Orient on October 28 that saw the hosts concede an 85th minute equaliser, was a marked improvement on the defeat at Fylde that preceded it.
And though Keates was satisfied with his side’s attacking play, he was less enamoured with the individual defensive lapses that cost his side victory.
Keates, who saw James Jennings limp out of the draw with Orient, said: “We called for a reaction from the players after that Fylde game and we got one.
“We played well for most of the Orient game, but that result came about because of two little bits of defensive detail that we didn’t take care of as we usually would.
“I thought we very good in attack and got ourselves into some really strong positions, but defensively we weren’t as solid.
“It was unlike us because our attention to detail most of the season has been spot on. We’ve worked on a few things defensively during this break and ironed a few things out.
“Hopefully now we’ll see a return to how things have been for most of this season in our back line.”