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Dragons hopeful on deal for Whitley

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith is optimistic that Jim Whitley will put pen to paper on a new two-year contract within the next 48 hours.

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith is optimistic that Jim Whitley will put pen to paper on a new two-year contract within the next 48 hours.

Following a meeting yesterday, the Dragons' boss confirmed that Whitley, who was last season voted Player of the Year by fans, would make his decision today and he added: "I think he would have agreed the deal on the spot if he had not decided to telephone his agent.

"He's asked for 24 hours to think things over, but I'm optimistic that he will decide to stay with us.

With Smith anxious to complete his squad-building before pre-season training begins next Wednesday, he has pencilled a meeting today with the agent representing the left-side midfield player he has been tracking for more than two months.

"In an ideal world I would have got all this side of things sorted out by the end of May and now I'm keen to tie everything up on the playing side by the end of this week," he said.

The delay, caused by the protracted negotiations which led to the Racecourse take-over by Cheshire property developer Mark Guterman, means Smith has yet to finalise contracts with key backroom staff and that too is a priority.

The Dragons' boss, who sat down with the new club chairman earlier this week to draw up budgets, admitted that uncertainty about their future was the last thing he had wanted for them.

"I don't like to take people for granted because that's not the right way to deal with them but my hands were tied for a while. What with holidays and training courses, I've not seen most of them for three or four weeks and I'm sure they've been concerned."

But he added: "It's going to be hard work but if people accept what's on offer I'm hoping we will be able to take the club forward. The management team is as important as the playing staff and if we get both sides right, the future looks good.

"Time is tight but hopefully we can now get it sorted out. With the chairman in place we now have decisions being made, everything is on a professional footing and I've got something to work with.

"Obviously I was working with Mr Guterman prior to the take-over being finalised but, the more I talk to him, the more I get the feeling he is in this for the football. That's very important and that's what I like to see."

Details of the club's new shirt sponsorship deal will be announced on Monday and fans wanting to sport the new-look strip will be able to start buying the freshly-branded merchandise from the club shop immediately.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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