WREXHAM’S Nathan Fairhurst hopes to make both managers sit up and take notice when the Dragons entertain Championship side Preston North End at the Racecourse this evening.
The 19-year old midfielder ended a nine-year association with the Deepdale club during the summer to sign a permanent contract with Dean Saunders’ Blue Square Premier outfit, even though North End boss Alan Irvine also put a new deal on the table.
But after six months on loan last season with Wrexham during which he played 20 league games and scored two goals, Fairhurst has no doubts that he made the right call.
“Alan said it was my decision, but that if I wanted regular first-team football it would be better for me to come to Wrexham full time,” said Fairhurst yesterday.
“He offered me another year but having experienced first-team football for six months at Wrexham that was what I wanted to do.
“I’d like to think I can show Preston that I am a good player and worthy of my place at Wrexham and hopefully I can impress the gaffer here and make sure he has to pick me in the first game of the season.”
But Fairhurst acknowledges that competition for places will be tough, with Saunders also recruiting Mark Jones and Hedi Taboubi during the summer months to add to his existing midfield options.
“I think there are some good players here and I’m looking forward to playing alongside them,” added Fairhurst. “There’s a lot of competition for midfield places, but I can’t wait for the new season to come even though I know I’m going to have to work hard for a starting spot. That’s why these pre-season games are important.”
The teenager went on: “I’d like to think I might score a few more goals this season. I got three last year but with Gareth Taylor in the side we now have a target man who can hold the ball up and hopefully he will do that and give us the chance to get shots away from the edge of the box.”
Wrexham boss Saunders, who has also arranged matches at Unibond First Division South Carlton Town on Thursday and a Manchester City XI on Saturday, is hoping Liverpool goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis will be available this evening.
The Australian teenager and the Anfield club have agreed a season-long loan at the Racecourse, but the youngster needs to tie up a few loose ends before joining up with the Dragons.
“Hopefully he’ll be with us tomorrow,” said Saunders yesterday.
“We have three games this week and that should provide opportunities for all the players to get some match time under their belts.
“We have nearly three weeks yet before the season starts so it’s very much a case this week of improving everyone’s fitness a little bit more because we are not where we need to be just yet.
“We didn’t play last weekend so the players will have a double session today and something more in the morning before the Preston game.”
When Bouzanis makes the switch, the Dragons boss will be concentrating on the acquisition of another defender and up to two new strikers, and he remains confident that all three will be a cut above the Blue Square Premier norm.
“Time is moving on and it’s becoming a buyer’s market,” he added.
“I’ve got more than a few irons in the fire and I can assure the supporters that I’ll have the players I want in place before the new season starts.”
Meanwhile midfielder Tom Kearney is the latest player to leave the Racecourse after having the remainder of his contract paid up. He looks set to join Altrincham.