WREXHAM manager Brian Little is making good his promise to rebuild the Dragons squad after signing another two players yesterday and releasing defender Ryan Valentine to join his former club, Darlington.
Carl Tremarco, from Little’s previous club Tranmere Rovers, has arrived as a ready-made replacement for Valentine and the Racecourse boss is also giving Jeff Whitley an opportunity to redeem his tarnished reputation after agreeing a non-contract deal with the ex-Manchester City and Northern Ireland midfielder.
Tremarco, 22, and Whitley both go straight into the squad for this afternoon’s Racecourse clash against League Two table-toppers MK Dons, together with 20-year-old striker Stuart Nicholson who joined the Dragons on a three-month loan on Thursday.
This week’s burst of transfer activity means that as many as six players could be making their Racecourse debuts today in the club’s first home game of the New Year.
Since Stockport County’s 1-0 win there on December 29, Gavin Ward, Phil Bolland, Danny Sonner and Paul Hall have been recruited, Sam Aiston’s loan deal has been made permanent and Whitley too is restored to the ranks just five days into his comeback.
And Little, who admits this afternoon’s line-up will have an experimental look about it, has not finished yet.
“We’ll be something of an unknown quantity, even for me, and that will definitely be the case as far as MK Dons are concerned,” he said.
“We are now a very different team compared to when I first came in and it might take a while for all the new players to get used to each other.
“But I’m still looking because it doesn’t hurt to keep people on their toes and if I feel someone is out there who can improve us out on the pitch, I can’t afford to let the chance slip.”
The Dragons boss, whose side have lost their previous seven league matches, added: “Throwing the new faces straight into tomorrow’s game is not ideal because a couple of the lads are virtual strangers to the rest, but we have to try and change things very quickly.
“And certainly no one can accuse us of not trying. We have seen an improvement of late in our most recent performances, but we have not translated that into points on the board.”
Explaining his decision to sanction Valentine’s move back to the north east, Little said it made sense for the player, whose Wrexham contract was up at the end of this season.
He said: “Darlington made the first move when Dave Penney inquired about the possibility of signing him and with myself unable to even start thinking about what might happen beyond this season, it offered the Ryan the opportunity to fix himself up with a longer term deal.
“At the same time Carl’s name came up in conversation and so the one thing followed the other and the pieces fell into place. I gave Carl his debut when I was at Tranmere and, although he is still young, he has a fair bit of experience under his belt. He’s quick, he is aggressive and he’s a very enthusiastic player with a good left foot.
“With Matty Done and Neil Taylor – both young and left-footed as well – I’m sure a lot of clubs will be very envious in a couple of years, but Carl is just ahead of Neil in terms of experience.”
Little also has high hopes for Nicholson, who earlier this season was on loan at Shrewsbury Town.
“He made an immediate impact as a kid at West Brom and played for England under-19s, but it hasn’t really happened for him this season,” added the Racecourse boss.
“He gives us something a bit different from the other strikers here because he likes to get behind his opponents and he’s pretty quick as well.
“He is very keen to do well and he is searching for a stage on which to perform.
“Hopefully he’ll find that here with us and he will score a few goals.”
And Little hinted that Whitley might have a role to play this afternoon less than a week after he returned to training following a period of rehabilitation to address an alcohol problem.
“Jeff is just a bit off the pace in terms of match fitness, but I’ve been tempted to put him in the squad based on his experience, his ability and his leadership qualities,” Little added.
“He jumped at the offer of non-contract terms which delighted me because it shows me he wants to do something to help the club and I think he has earned that opportunity.”
Little’s MK Dons counterpart, Paul Ince, is looking for a positive reaction from his players following last week’s home defeat at the hands of Barnet.
And he has warned them against complacency, particularly following the week’s movements at the Racecourse.
“Sometimes when you are down at the bottom and you bring in players of quality, it can lift the team, the club and the fans,” he said yesterday.
“Wrexham could have four or five players making their home debuts and those lads will be looking to impress in front of the supporters. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen by thinking about our own game plan.”
Ince is likely to restore Aaron Wilbraham to his starting line-up after the striker made a successful return from injury last week as a second-half substitute.