MIDFIELD player Nathan Fairhurst has elected to join Wrexham after turning down a new contract offer from Championship side Preston North End.
The teenager’s decision has been hailed as a major coup by Dragons boss Dean Saunders, who yesterday revealed that Jamie McCluskey will also be staying with the Blue Square Premier club next season.
After joining Wrexham on loan from Deepdale last November, Fairhurst made a total of 21 appearances, scoring three goals, and he was expected to return to the Lancashire club which offered him a new 12-month deal next season.
Saunders said: “Nathan has decided to join us instead and I will be sitting down with his agent tomorrow to thrash out the terms of his contract.
“I see Nathan as one for the future and the type of player I can help to improve. He wants to learn, he has a great attitude and I have no doubt he will go on to bigger and better things in his career.
“That means we will be able to make some money out of it. The reason Preston offered him a new deal was because of his potential and my reasons are the same. Nathan is only 19 but he’s had half a season now of playing against men and, although he’s not the biggest or most physical of players he will benefit from getting a good pre-season under his belt.
“We’ll be playing quite a few friendly matches without any pressure and we’ll be able to try different things with his game.
“The same applies to Andy Fleming and the other midfield players I will be signing as well.”
McCluskey, who joined the Dragons around the turn of the year after a lengthy break from the game due to injury, has agreed a one-year deal and Saunders believes the former Hibernian player has plenty to offer.
“Jamie has not had a long run of games for about two years but I’m hoping the result of a solid pre-season will see him coming back a lot sharper,” he added.
“He is a very good footballer with an excellent footballing brain and we’ll make him stronger and fitter. He will be able to create things for us but his first priority will be to work hard and earn his place in the team, so for that reason he has agreed an incentive-based deal.”
The Wrexham boss confirmed that a striker and a goalkeeper were at the top of his wanted list, but he has yet to speak with former England under-21 star Matt Jansen, who played three matches last season before picking up an injury that will need a minor operation to resolve.
“I have got my eye on a couple of players and a striker and keeper are a priority,” he said. “But I’m making sure I don’t dive in too soon because I don’t want to be paying over the odds in terms of wages.”
After working with his squad yesterday in the first of twice-weekly sessions until the end of June, Saunders confirmed he was close to agreeing dates for summer friendlies with several top clubs from the Premiership and the Championship.