MIDFIELD places are up for grabs when Wrexham embark on the FA Cup trail against Eastwood Town this Saturday.
Loan signing Joe Allen – who has made a big impression in his two Blue Square Premiership outings to date – will not be considered at the request of his parent club Swansea City, who do not want the teenager cup-tied.
Wrexham are also awaiting news on Allen’s ankle after he pulled out of training yesterday with a suspected injury.
And with Andy Fleming sidelined by a cartilage injury, Dragons manager Dean Saunders will have to look elsewhere for someone to partner Levi Mackin in the fourth-round qualifying tie at the Racecourse.
But yesterday he insisted he was not concerned. “The lads are queuing up for a game,” he said, referring no doubt to the likes of former captain Tom Kearney, Conall Murtagh, Shaun Whalley, Christian Smith and Sam Aiston.
“Everyone who has had to wait for their opportunity has heard everything I’ve had to say and can’t claim they don’t know what lies ahead of them,” he added. “They know what is required of them in a game and there is also the chance for them to keep the others out of the side when they become available again.”
Several of the fringe members of the squad can stake their claim today when Saunders takes a squad to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a training-ground practice match against Mick McCarthy’s Championship outfit.
“We’ll mix and match,” added the Dragons boss. “I’ll be watching closely to see who wants to play on Saturday and we’ll probably look at a few different team shapes and discover which players can do a certain job for me.”
Saunders won’t make any concessions to Eastwood Town’s Unibond Premier League status as he looks to extend his 100% record into a fourth game and has warned his players that training will be stepped up in the coming weeks.
“They have had a tough day today and it will be getting tougher,” he said. “We are going into Saturday’s game with the same attitude we have shown in the last three because we want to make it four from four.
“We cannot afford to let up because just when you think you have cracked it football has a nasty habit of kicking you in the teeth, and I aim to ensure that does not happen to us this weekend.
“Looking further ahead, the lads are beginning to realise that they need to be fit to get into my team and can keep up with the pace of the game for 90 minutes. It’s as much a mental challenge as physical because some people stop when the going gets tough while the others keep going.
“They have to believe they are capable of what I am asking from them, but the rewards are waiting for them. There is nothing better than going out and knowing that you are fitter and stronger than the people you are playing against.”
Several hundred Eastwood fans are expected to travel to the Racecourse on Saturday. Reduced admission prices of £10 (£5 concessions) apply at the turnstiles.
Buckley & District Reds, who are staging their monthly meeting at the town’s cricket club this evening (8pm), are hosting a fund-raising race night on Saturday November 1.