WREXHAM manager Denis Smith is sweating on the outcome of fitness tests for striker Chris Llewellyn and key defender Shaun Pejic before naming his starting line-up against Darlington today.
Llewellyn, who has never missed a match through injury during his two spells at the Racecourse, is struggling with a pulled muscle at the top of his leg while Pejic, one of the club’s most consistent players in recent weeks, has a calf strain.
Yesterday the defender said he was desperately keen to play, but insisted it would be foolish to aggravate the problem.
“I had to stop training yesterday because the muscle tightened up and it’s not much easier today,” he said. “But there’s another 24 hours to go and I’ll see how it feels in the morning.
“It’s a blow because we are already missing a few experienced players through injury, but if it’s not right tomorrow I would prefer to miss the game rather than play, make the injury worse and possibly miss all the games over Christmas.”
The Racecourse boss has added youngsters Gareth Evans and Alex Darlington, who is still a member of the ground staff, to an 18-strong squad and said it was pointless to dwell on the absence of senior professionals such as captain Neil Roberts and Welsh internationals Mark Jones and Steve Evans.
“It’s all fairly straightforward and Gareth Evans will play if Shaun fails to make it,” Smith said. “I’m reasonably optimistic that Shaun will be okay, but I’m not so sure about Chris Llewellyn.
“It takes a lot for him to miss training, let alone a game, and Alex is in the squad as cover for that position.
“We’ll see what the morning brings because the fact remains we have got to get on with it. We are coming up to an important part of the season, with four matches in the space of 10 days or so, and we’ll know what shape we are in when we come through at the other end.”
If Llewellyn is ruled out, Lee McEvilly will start alongside 18-year-old Marc Williams, who made a good impression against Walsall last weekend. The Dragons boss said he had been delighted by the way all his up and coming youngsters had responded to the call to arms.
“I hope Marc performs like he did last Saturday, and the same could be said of his brother Mike and Matty Done too, because they are all young lads,” he added.
“They might have expected or hoped to make 10 appearances during the whole of the season but, in the case of Matty and Mike, they have already passed that total.
“Mike has done well in every game he has played, proving solid and dependable, and Matty gives us balance on the left. He came back last week after a break for injury and I think the rest has done him some good.
“It’s not ideal and I would much rather we could drop them in here and there to play and learn alongside experienced players, but that’s not been possible this season and they have risen to the challenge better than I could have hoped for,” the manager added.
Smith, though, reckons another three points are there for the taking this afternoon against opponents who have lost four games in a row.
“Darlington have their own problems and I would prefer to let them worry about us,” he said. “We are playing well at home and I’d like to see that continue tomorrow.”
Quakers boss Dave Penney is considering changing his attacking options after a recent goal drought from his strikers.
Julian Joachim and Alun Armstrong have started the last three games, but between them the pair have failed to score in 21 games and Penney has Simon Johnson, Barry Conlon and Richard Logan available.
Darren Holloway is expected to continue in defence after showing no ill-effects following his return from a month’s absence with a hamstring injury.