Royle concerned by defensive frailties

SUCH were the defensive frailties against Crewe that even manager Joe Royle admitted to be being worried that six might not be enough to win.

SUCH were the defensive frailties against Crewe that even manager Joe Royle admitted to be being worried that six might not be enough to win, writes Derek Davis.

Royle is rightly concerned with his defence but it is not just the back four he was pointing fingers at after conceding their ninth goal in three home league games.

A loan signing is still a strong possibility, but Town are now unlikely to bring anyone in until after Saturday's FA Cup tie with Sunderland.

Royle last night said: "I would not want to lose a week in a month's loan so it will probably not be until next week now, if something happens. I may find out this week if we can have the player but we will see."


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While the vast majority of the crowd enjoyed the pulsating 6-4 win, Royle and his staff could not relax until it was all over.

He said: "I should have been enjoying it at halftime. We should have gone in at 2-0 and talking about holding things together and waiting and then picking them off. But when it was 2-1 it was a nervous score, bearing in mind we have lost our last two home game league games.

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"If there was anyone uncommitted in the ground they must have loved it. But I turned the fans behind the dug-out and asked if that was going to be enough when we got the sixth and we still had five minutes to go.

"You could not be sure as we were having such a daft day at the back. We have conceded nine goals at home in the last three league games and it has to be better. We need to find a better line up to take us on."

Royle kept faith with Richard Naylor and John McGreal as the centre-half pairing with fit-again Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos on the bench. Although both went on as late substitutions, neither was in the middle of defence.

With Fabian Wilnis suspended, Jermaine Wright went to right back while Matt Richards recovered from a hamstring strain to take his place at left back, with Ian Westlake retired to the left wing position.

And even though Town have now banged in 53 league goals from 28 games, Royle is not happy that they have conceded 43 and is still searching for the right balance.

He said: "I'm delighted we have scored six goals. Much has been made of our cutting edge recently yet we have scored six and could have had 10.

"Yet defensively, at one stage, they scored three goals from four attacks. They were never really in the game at one stage yet they came in at half-time 2-1 down. They have thrown caution to the wind and gone for it a little, which made it easier for us to score.

"But we can't rely on scoring six goals at home. Our defending at times was awful and it is not just the back four.

"I have no problem when we have the ball with the players we have, but there are too many players who just don't have a defensive attitude and that is right through the side.

"We have to defend better and we will be working on that. We certainly have to defend better in we are to realise our ambitions."

But as unhappy as he was at the defending, Royle put things in perspective and looked on the bright side of events.

He said: "There were some great goals, lots of positive things, and once again we showed great spirit.

"We were pegged back three times in front of a nervous crowd and a very nervous back four but we went on to win the game.

"There were some terrific strikes. We ended up a bit stretched with square pegs in round holes again but if you score six you can't complain.

"We are fifth in the table, we have made ground on Norwich and West Brom so it is a good day overall, although not necessarily for my health."

Jim Magilton suffered a dead leg but is expected to be fit for the Cup clash with Sunderland.

Royle added: "I was delighted with Tommy. He is that one midfielder who has that real goal-scoring instinct

"So for him to do what he is good at from a wide position, that he doesn't think is best position, shows it can be done."

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