Football: Bruce in search of remedy as illness dogs Terriers

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The Independent Online
HUDDERSFIELD'S PROSPECTS of maintaining their unbeaten home record when they confront promotion rivals Charlton at the McAlpine Stadium today have been blighted by a flu bug that has swept through the Terriers' dressing-room.

The virus has laid low the manager, Steve Bruce, as well as several of his key players and will enhance the south Londoners' confidence as they attempt to overcome the First Division's second-placed side.

Ominously, Bruce's Charlton counterpart, Alan Curbishley, is in bullish mood. "Our aim is to go back up," he said. "We've got a strong squad and money to spend to make it even stronger."

Manchester City, the leaders, tackle Grimsby at Maine Road and the manager, Joe Royle, is relived that his side have recovered from a recent loss of form. "We had a little wobble and the prophets of doom were saying the bubble had burst, but we're still there," he said.

Alan Buckley is calling for an improved performance after his Grimsby side lost 3-0 at Barnsley on Boxing Day. "We can do better than that," he said.

A lack of goals is taxing the Ipswich manager, George Burley. "We're undefeated in nine games, but we're not scoring enough goals," lamented Burley, whose East Anglians tackle Stockport - another team struck by the flu - at Portman Road.

Blackburn may be rejuvenated under the permanent control of Tony Parkes, but the former caretaker par excellence is combating complacency as his side meet troubled Portsmouth at Fratton Park. "Everyone makes out that they are in for a hard game and it's up to us to make sure that's the case," Parkes said.

Birmingham City's challenge has faltered of late and the Blues' manager, Trevor Francis - blaming a spate of illness and injury for their troubles - will demand an improved display against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

Crewe travel to Queen's Park Rangers on a high after their draw with Huddersfield and their manager, Dario Gradi, said: "We were a bit of a threat in front of goal, which is an improvement on recent weeks."