MATT CROWELL is determined to prove his worth to Brian Flynn after winning a late call-up to the Wales under-21 squad.
The Wrexham midfielder was initially overlooked by U21 boss Flynn, but an injury to Crewe's David Vaughan at the weekend paved the way for Crowell to join the squad as a replacement.
The 20-year-old linked up with his national team-mates last night, and he is now desperate for the chance to show Flynn what he can do in the European U21 Championship qualifying double-header against Austria.
Wales host Austria at Merthyr Tydfil on Friday before heading to Neusiedl Am See for the second game on Tuesday.
Crowell said: "Brian Flynn phoned me on Sunday to tell me I was in the squad and I was thrilled to be involved. I was disappointed not to be involved in the first place but I'm very happy to be in it now.
"It gives me a chance to be involved in two big games now. The lads lost to Germany in the last game but there's still a chance to qualify. Denis Smith seems pretty pleased with me at the moment so I thought I was in with a good chance of making the U21 squad. It didn't quite work out how I thought but it's good to be in the squad now."
Crowell, who was regularly called-up by previous U21 boss Glyn Hodges, added: "This is a chance to show Brian Flynn what I can do. Every time you get a chance you have got to impress."
The Bridgend-born midfielder, who was signed from Southampton in May 2003, is finally seizing his chance to nail down a regular place in the Dragons team. He has featured in the last eight games, although Wrexham's trouble with injuries and suspensions have meant he has often been playing alongside different midfield partners from week to week.
Crowell, however, does not find it a distraction.
"You've got to make the most of whoever you have to play alongside - and to be fair I enjoy playing with every midfielder at the club," he said.. "With a cup final at Cardiff to look forward to, everybody is raising their game and trying to make sure they're in the team.
"It's something we're all looking forward to."
Smith feels Crowell's call-up is a fitting reward for the midfielder's best run of form in a Wrexham shirt.
The Dragons boss said: "He's come in and done really well. He's surprised everybody because he's playing a different role to what he's used to. It's the role Danny Williams or Jim Whitley plays, but he's gone in there and done it well.
"He's in the middle of the longest run in the team since he's been at the club. Because of the injuries we've had, youngsters like him, Craig Morgan and Mark Jones have come in and done really well. They've had to play and they've come in and improved. If Matty gets games for Wales U21s it's got to do his confidence good."
Smith has also lost Dennis Lawrence to international commitments. The Trinidadian was drafted into his national team's squad yesterday, joining Wrexham club-mates Carlos Edwards and Hector Sam for World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Guatemala. Robert Earnshaw, pictured yesterday, is hoping to continue his goalscoring form against the Austrians in Cardiff on Saturday