IT’S good to be back!” That was the reaction yesterday from Wrexham loan signing Robbie Garrett, who begins his second temporary spell at the Racecourse in this afternoon’s League Two basement battle with Lincoln City.
The 19-year old Stoke City midfielder, who made 10 appearances for the Dragons in the latter half of last season, has agreed a three-month emergency loan that runs until December 29.
But the youngster confirmed he would like to stay with Wrexham for the remainder of the season if Racecourse boss Brian Carey wants to negotiate a longer-term stay once the transfer window re-opens on January 1.
Garrett, who signed a new one-year contract with the Championship club in the summer, said: “I had a great time here last season because everyone – the coaching staff, the players and the fans – made this a great place to be and as soon as I heard of the gaffer’s interest I couldn’t wait to come back.
“It’s true that Wrexham have not made the best of starts, but I believe there is enough quality in the squad to soon start picking up results. I would be more than happy to stay for as long as I’m needed because I think I can do a good job for Wrexham and keep my place in the side on a regular basis.”
Garrett, who will be sharing a house with fellow Northern Ireland under-21 international Michael Carvill, added: “We have played together since we were about 10 years old and it’s great to be with him again.
“We have both been playing for the U21s and at this stage of my career I think it’s better for me to be playing first-team football every week, rather than playing in Stoke’s reserves. The pace and intensity of league football will help keep me in the international frame.”
Carey, who watched Garrett in action in last Monday’s Potteries derby against Port Vale reserves, confirmed the teenager would be in the starting line-up against the Imps.
“I’ve seen Robbie a couple of times this season and he’s in good form at the moment. Against Port Vale on Monday he played as though it was the last game of his career,” he said yesterday.
“He bossed the game throughout and infused it with his spirit and enthusiasm. In addition he made it an uncomfortable night for his opponents and that’s what we want him to do for us.”
With eight players unavailable through either injury or suspension, the Dragons boss said his 17-strong squad picked itself for a game Wrexham must win if they are to have any chance of moving away from the foot of the table.
Juan Ugarte, with a hamstring strain, is the latest casualty and joins Conall Murtagh, Mike Williams, Eifion Williams, Ryan Valentine and Silvio Spann in the treatment room. And the continuing suspension of striking duo Chris Llewellyn and Michael Proctor has left the way open for club captain Neil Roberts to return this afternoon.
Left out for the last two matches, Roberts staked his claim for a recall with a fine performance in the reserves on Monday and Carey said he was not at all surprised.
“All the staff who watched the game said the same and we know that Neil is a big player for us,” added the Racecourse boss.
“Regardless of a player’s reputation it sometimes does no harm to ask them to step back sometimes, and while where we are in the league hurts us all it probably hurts Neil more.
“He has given up a lot in financial terms and a higher level of football to come back here because he loves this club, and after the Hereford United game I felt he beat himself up too much about the result.”
This afternoon’s match marks the bicentenary of the Racecourse, which staged its first horse race back in 1807, and Carey is hoping the occasion will lift his players and halt a six-match losing run.
“Hopefully there will be something of a carnival atmosphere around the ground tomorrow and we would love to add to the excitement,” he said.
“Such a landmark in the stadium’s history deserves a win, as do our fans and we are going into the game with something to prove.”
Lincoln, who come to the Racecourse with a record of four successive defeats, failed in their bid to bring in a loan signing this week and manager John Schofield has named the squad on duty for last week’s derby defeat at the hands of neighbours Grimsby Town.