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After a prolonged period of negotiations, Lee Jones has signed a two-year

After a prolonged period of negotiations, Lee Jones has signed a two-year contract at the Racecourse; meanwhile Craig Faulconbridge has finally joined Wycombe Wanderers on a Bosman.

For Wrexham to sign a proven first division striker is a major coup, particularly in the present financial climate. Jones will be certain of a rapturous welcome from fans in August.

Faulconbridge hardly shed blood for the Dragons cause during the second half of the relegation season. He gave the impression he was "too good" for Wrexham, but with due respect to Wycombe, they are hardly a major step up for the Nuneaton-born attacker.

The two pieces of transfer news are significant and interesting for a variety of reasons.

First, it is a case of compare and contrast. One player rejects a better deal at another club (Bristol Rovers) to play for the Reds; the other leaves the Racecourse after his over-the-top contractual demands are rejected.

Of course, it goes without saying, but in a money-dominated world, it is hugely refreshing to hear of Jones' attitude - and hugely depressing to have witnessed Faulconbridge's behaviour. It is heart-warming to know the ex-Barnsley striker is back in North Wales on a permanent basis and determined to spearhead the 2002-3 campaign - and money, apparently, is not the paramount issue.

Second, there are important tactical ramifications of the one-in, one-out personnel change.

On paper, the Faulconbridge-Trundle combination had a lot going for it, mainly because the former was good in the air and the latter was good with the ball at his feet. In practice, however, the two strikers ploughed similar furrows up front - and arguably formed better partnerships with other players with different qualities (most notably, Morrell).

In the new season there will be scope for plenty of experimentation, but the idea of a Trundle-Jones front line definitely excites me. Trundle has got power, strength and explosive skill; Jones has got pace, guile and a lethal finishing touch.

And let's not forget that when the ex-Liverpool striker netted five times against Cambridge last month, he was partnered by the unsung Morrell. Add the unpredictable Hector Sam into the equation - and the manager has got lots of options in the opposition third of the pitch.

Finally, I would suggest that Smith himself has emerged well from both episodes.

I think he was correct to refuse Faulconbridge's mid-season financial demands and also right to place him immediately on the transfer list. It is just unfortunate that no-one came in for the tall centre-forward before the March deadline date, so the club lost out on a fee yet again.

With Jones, Smith obviously used his charm. As the Reds boss said after the deal was done: "I'm chuffed at the lad's decision. It's something I wanted and getting Lee to sign here full-time is something I've been working on."

Welcome home Lee!

PS. Very best wishes to Joey Jones as he recuperates from heart surgery.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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