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Go easy on Lee

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith last night appealed to supporters not to weigh down new striker Lee Jones with expectation when he makes his debut against Huddersfield Town at the Racecourse this afternoon.

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith last night appealed to supporters not to weigh down new striker Lee Jones with expectation when he makes his debut against Huddersfield Town at the Racecourse this afternoon.

The 28-year-old striker, who returned to his hometown club on non-contract terms on Thursday, will not be in the starting line-up but the Dragons' boss will use him at some stage of a game Wrexham dare not lose if they are to keep their second division survival hopes alive.

"Lee has not played for a few weeks and it's better to put him on when people have tired legs than when they are fresh," said Smith. "I just hope fans don't expect miracles, although we would all love it if he came on and got a hat-trick.

"Realistically, though, he's come here with no baggage, he wants to help the club and he wants to make things happen. He's looked sharp in training over the last couple of days and hopefully he can do the business for us.

"We must recognise he's not going to change the team but hopefully he can convert the chances which we've been creating in every match. Prior to his arrival we didn't have anyone at the club who could go beyond the opposition but that's something that comes naturally to him and maybe we can reap the benefit."

In addition to Jones, midfielder Steve Thomas and winger Robin Gibson come into contention and 16-year-old defender Craig Morgan will also be among the substitutes.

Thomas, sidelined for the past three matches by a groin strain, said the arrival of Jones had given everyone a boost.

"He's definitely a bit different and he looks quick and bright," said the former Welsh under-21 international.

"It's always good to have a new face around the place and he's played at a higher level so, obviously, it gives us all a lift. He's looked sharp and fresh in training and hopefully he'll be able to bang in a few goals for us.

"We still believe we have a chance of escaping the drop and I'm just pleased to be back in the frame at what is obviously a crucial period for the club. It doesn't look as though I'll be starting the game but if I get on at some point I'll be delighted."

Refusing to accept that Wrexham are doomed to relegation, Smith has set his players the task of remaining unbeaten during the Easter programme, which also sees the Dragons visit Blackpool on Monday.

"Everybody expects us to lose both games this weekend so we don't have anything to lose in terms of what we do," he said. "But I'm looking for us to be undefeated on Monday night and I'm sure we are capable of picking up points.

"Huddersfield are going well and, by our standards, they are a really big club who have spent a lot of money in recent seasons. But they are in the second division like us and we have to be able to compete with them and others like them."

The visitors, whose unbeaten run of seven matches has taken them into the play-off zone, are expected to bring around 2,000 fans to the Racecourse but Smith said the atmosphere should serve to lift his side.

"Players are in the wrong business if they don't want to play in front of big crowds," he added. "We know what we've got to do, regardless of what's gone on earlier in the season."

The Terriers have already won once at the Racecourse this season, putting Wrexham out of the LDV Vans Trophy competition with a 1-0 success in October, and they won the McAlpine Stadium league meeting 5-1.

But manager Lou Macari watched Wrexham's 3-2 defeat at Cardiff City last Friday night and reckoned Smith's side deserved more than they got from the game.

He will have strikers Leon Knight, scorer of 17 goals since signing on loan from Chelsea last October, and Andy Booth, now recovered from injury, both available and he made two deadline day loan signings.

Damien Delaney, a 21-year-old midfield player from Leicester City, goes straight into the squad today and Macari has added to his defensive options with the acquisition of Watford youngster Jerel Ifill.

WREXHAM (from): Rovde; Whitley, Pejic, Lawrence, Holmes, Edwards, Philips, Ferguson, Barrett, Faulconbridge, Trundle, Jones, Sam, Blackwood, Gibson, Thomas, Morgan, Walsh.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
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