Town off boil

IT is hard to believe that the Championship's second highest scorers are struggling to get goals.After two blanks in a row, Joe Royle has warned that the Blues need to rediscover their finishing touch if they want to challenge the automatic top two places.

IT is hard to believe that the Championship's second highest scorers are struggling to get goals.

After two blanks in a row, Joe Royle has warned that the Blues need to rediscover their finishing touch if they want to challenge the automatic top two places.

The Town manager said: “We have gone off the boil with regards to scoring goals at the moment. We have never been overly great at keeping clean sheets but at the moment we don't have a goal in us and that is a concern.

“We have 10 games left and we have to pick ourselves up. We have to find our goal form.


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Although Shefki Kuqi looked below par at Wigan, Royle is confident the 15-goal leading scorer will soon get back in the groove. The manager is more concerned with 14-goal Darren Bent who was substituted at half-time.

“Confidence will take a knock after losing games but we are basically the same squad and Shefki will be better for the game.

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“I'm a little concerned about young Darren at moment. The decision has to be made whether we rest him or persevere with him and push him through because he has lost that goal threat.”

Royle dismissed the suggestion that a lack of service from midfield was not helping the strike force and compared the Town duo with Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts who have 38 goals between them in league and cup.

Royle said: “The front men have got to make their own chances sometimes.

Of Wigan's twin strike force he said: “On that performance they are the best two in the division.”

With James Scowcroft back from a one-game ban Royle will have five forwards to choose from, but confirmed he will not use Dean Bowditch as an out- and-out striker.

He said: “If we play Dean it has to be in a three to give him a chance to deal with the physical side.

“There was lots of tidy stuff without creating and their keeper has had nothing to do for 90 minutes.

“James will come back next week and we will have a choice of forwards so we will see what we can do.”

With 30 points still to play for, the play-off hating Royle still has an automatic promotion place in sight and is looking for a win over relegation strugglers Nottingham Forest to get the season back on track.

He said: “It is a big game against Forest and we have to reinstate our home form and get the confidence that a win brings.

“We have to get after the top teams and make sure we are in good form for when one of them loses.We never thought we were home and hosed when we were six points clear and I'm sure neither Paul or Mick will thank that now.”

Royle accepted Town's third defeat in a row was probably a fair result, but was not happy about the goal that decided the match.

He said: “Overall I couldn't argue that Wigan deserved to win on the first half. Their front men gave us problems.

“It was not a penalty it was on the arc outside the box and the players have just run into each other.

“It is one big decision the referee has had to make and in an otherwise decent performance, he has got it wrong.

“There were plenty of things to be pleased about in the second half. We played some good stuff on an undulating pitch.”

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