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Fanscene by Peter Davies

Today is the day. Like every other Reds fan, I am delighted that the new

Today is the day. Like every other Reds fan, I am delighted that the new season has finally arrived. Denis Smith has a trimmed-down squad to work with this year and, as a result, I feel that Wrexham's fortunes in the third division will hinge on three key issues.

First, can the players adapt to the new 5-3-2 formation that the manager has favoured in pre-season? The evidence so far has been promising. Playing three central defenders means that there is extra cover for the ageing Carey, and also enables the chosen wing-backs - Paul Edwards or Holmes on the left, Carlos Edwards, Phillips or Whitley on the right - to influence the game more in an attacking sense.

Phillips' future at the club could depend on his ability to adapt to the role (he was never the greatest full-back in his early days), and it should be very interesting to see how the Edwardses perform - Paul in his first season, Carlos in what could possibly be his last. Second, can star men Trundle and Ferguson keep a lid on their tempers?

In my view, it is no longer acceptable for them to be regularly unavailable because of suspensions. On their day, they are two of the finest performers in the lower leagues, but as the Reds boss said recently, it is not ideal if his two best players are missing large chunks of the year through bad behaviour.

At the beginning of 2001-2 it was the Scouser who missed the beginning of the season on account of his disciplinary record; at the start of 2002-3 it's the Scot who'll sit out the first three fixtures. They have got to mend their ways, and quickly; otherwise, the Dragons' hoped-for promotion push could be a non-starter.

Third, is Lee Jones the man to shoot the Reds to success? I'm very pleased that, with the help of Mark Guterman's chequebook, Wrexham were able to capture Jones' signature at the start of the summer. The ex-Barnsley man has excellent pace and a good nose for goal in the penalty area. He's also fully committed to his hometown team.

However, there are sceptics who argue that Jones has not really progressed as a player since his first spell at the Racecourse, that he's a little one-dimensional as a striker and, most damning of all, that he is far too injury-prone. It is illuminating to take a look at his career stats. In 11 years he's started only 127 league games - a strange record for a 29-year-old who has always had a high-pedigree reputation. This year he needs to aim for 40 games, 20-plus goals and no injuries.

Finally, for me, there will be four key players during the coming campaign: Andy Dibble (can he stop the Dragons leaking goals?), Dan Bennett (can he help shore up the 5-3-2 system?), Paul Barrett (can he make himself indispensable to the team?) and Andy Morrell (can he make things happen for Trundle and Jones in front of goal?)


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