BRIAN Little put the disappointment of losing out on Paul Carden behind him by forging ahead with his Wrexham squad rebuilding last week.
The Dragons boss was stunned to discover that experienced midfielder Carden had taken over as player-assistant manager of Blue Square Premier (BSP) rivals Cambridge United after having agreed to sign for him on a free transfer from Accrington Stanley.
The 29-year-old Liverpudlian, who spent the second half of last season on loan with the U’s, originally turned down the chance to remain at the Abbey Stadium in favour of a move closer to home with Wrexham. However, the lure of beginning his management career brought about his dramatic U-turn.
Little wanted to pair Carden in the centre of the park with long-term target Tom Kearney, who penned a two-year deal with the Dragons on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old ex-Everton trainee, who spent four years playing League football with Bradford City after leaving Goodison Park, had 12 months of his contract left to run with Halifax. But he was able to negotiate his release after the crisis club’s demotion from the BSP to the UniBond League, due to financial irregularities, was confirmed.
Kearney said: “It’s nice to have finally sorted things and signed a contract for Wrexham.
“As soon as I learnt of the interest of Brian Little then obviously I was chomping at the bit to get on with it.”
Kearney’s arrival was followed 24 hours later by that of former Wales Under 21s international Kyle Critchell from fellow BSP outfit Weymouth.
The Dragons have paid a nominal fee for the 21-year-old full-back or defensive-midfielder, who caught the eye of coaches Brian Carey and Joey Jones in May’s semi-professional Four Nations Tournament.
Critchell, who qualifies for Wales through his mother, began his career at hometown club Weymouth and returned to them last summer from Chesterfield having been on the books of Southampton alongside Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale.
Critchell, who has agreed a two-year deal but will miss the first three games of the new campaign through suspension, said: “I left Chesterfield because my sister, who has spina bifida, was very ill and I wanted to get back home. That was the reason I joined Weymouth, but I see this move as a second chance for me.
“Things are much better on the family front and I jumped at the opportunity to join Wrexham, primarily because it’s a big club and because it’s Welsh.”
The transfer-listed Richard Hope departed the Racecourse on Wednesday when he signed for Grimsby. He has been replaced by Nat Brown, who became Little’s sixth signing of the summer on Friday.
The 27-year-old centre-back put pen to paper on a two-year contract having cancelled his deal with Grimsby’s League Two rivals Lincoln the previous day.
Brown, who can also play in midfield and up front, made 106 appearances for the Imps after leaving Huddersfield, for whom he played 83 times.
He said: “When I first came here to look around at the end of last season I was amazed by the training facilities. Even so, it has been a bit of a rush because I was expecting to be starting training at Lincoln. However, all the paperwork was completed and I was free to travel over and meet the lads. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but one I feel well-equipped to handle.”
Former club captain Neil Roberts, one of a number of players released by Little following Wrexham’s relegation, has joined the Welsh Premier League’s Rhyl on a three-year contract which will allow the 30-year-old striker to gain his coaching qualifications and also devote time to developing his corporate hospitality and entertainment business.