YOUNG Wrexham trialist Matt Shaw wants an opportunity tonight to show home-town club Blackpool that he will make it as a professional footballer.
The 20-year-old striker, one of a number of youngsters released by Sheffield Wednesday at the back end of last season, was not offered a second chance at Bloomfield Road and instead joined the Racecourse club at his own expense.
Dragons boss Denis Smith then signed Shaw on non-contract forms midway through last month to counter a crippling injury crisis that has robbed him of seven senior professionals and the young striker came on as a 90th-minute substitute in the 2-1 win at Colchester United three weeks ago.
With no prospect of an immediate upturn in Wrexham's injury fortunes, Shaw is named in an 18-strong squad and will be making the short trip from his home to Bloomfield Road after recovering from a week-long illness.
"It's great to be involved again," said Shaw yesterday. "I picked up a really bad virus last week which was unfortunate timing, to say the least. It knocked me back a bit and came at a bad time for the club because of the number of players who are already out."
Tonight's re-arranged League One clash means a reunion for Shaw with Blackpool midfielder Jamie Burns, a fellow team-mate through county and youth football before the Wrexham hopeful moved on to Stockport County and Hillsborough.
"Jamie is the only person I know who is still at Bloomfield Road, which is not that surprising given the way footballers move around these days," added Shaw..
"There are obviously a lot of new faces there now, compared with my time at the club.
"But I've got a lot of friends who are season-ticket holders and they keep me posted on Blackpool's progress. They seem to have picked up in the last month or so and they've managed some good results.
"But, from my point of view, I'm a Wrexham player at the moment and it would be nice to play some part in tomorrow's match. I am thoroughly enjoying my time with the club, I think the staff here are extremely good and I'm grateful for the opportunity they have given me to stay involved in league football.
"I played quite a few games in the reserves before last week's illness but I'm feeling right as rain now and I'm just itching for an opportunity to show what I can do."
Wrexham's limited options are reflected by the fact that Shaw is one of five recognised strikers in the travelling squad, which includes just 12 professionals - and two of them are doubtful starters, much to the dismay of the Race-course boss.
"Darren Ferguson is off ill today and Chris Armstrong is not fully fit but there really is no one else I can call upon," said Smith. "Among the youth team squad, lads like Gareth Evans, Mike Williams and Matty Done are all injured as well.
"It seems to be just one thing after another and the frustrating thing is that when we should have played Blackpool earlier in the season, I had everyone available and we were going well."
But Smith has banished any hint of defeatism among his players, despite Saturday's 5-1 mauling by League One lead-ers, Luton Town.
"Nobody likes being beaten like that but we've got to be realistic," he added. "Even with a full team it was always going to be a difficult match but, given the circumstances on Saturday, it was asking for a miracle.
"The silly thing is that we had enough chances to have made a real game of it. Both Chris Armstrong and Dennis Lawrence could have scored a couple of goals apiece, so we weren't that far away from them.
"If we stick some away at Blackpool we've got a chance. In terms of the club's future we've got nine days to find out what's going to happen.
"We have got to keep it going for that long at least. If I've got the same injury problems in a fortnight I won't be moaning because it means we will still be in business."
Blackpool, with former Wrexham play-ers Mark McGregor and Paul Edwards in their squad, saw their recent run of form halted in a 1-0 defeat at Chesterfield on Saturday, but Smith said recentlyinstalled boss Colin Hendry was beginning to make his mark.
"Any new manager wants to do things his own way, but that takes time and depends whether the players you inherit are willing to go with you," he added..
"Colin has come through that stage now and they are playing for him."
BLACKPOOL (probable): B Jones; Richardson, Evans, Clarke, McGregor; Coid, Wellens, Grayson, P Edwards; Taylor, Murphy. Subs: L Jones, Parker, Burns, R Edwards, Clare.
WREXHAM (probable): Baker; Pejic, Roberts, Lawrence; Spender, Crowell, Ferguson, Smith, Holt; Armstrong, Llewellyn. Subs (from): Evans, Jones, Quinn, Mackin, Sam, Ugarte, Shaw.
REFEREE: Eddie Evans.
Blackpool 10/11, Wrexham 2/1, Draw 9/4. First goalscorer: Scott Taylor 5/1, Chris Llewellyn 10/1, Dennis Lawrence 20/1.