WREXHAM defender Shaun Pejic begins his comeback from injury this afternoon in a re-arranged reserve-team match against Stoke City.
The 23-year-old centre-back, who has been sidelined for six matches, figures in a Dragons’ line-up that also includes loan signing Craig Morgan, but manager Denis Smith has resisted the temptation to use the run-out as a dress rehearsal for Saturday’s Racecourse clash with Bristol Rovers.
“I was thinking of playing a number of first-teamers, but I’ve changed my mind,” he said yesterday. “We spoke to Stoke last Friday about bringing this game forward so that Shaun could have a game and maybe come into consideration for this weekend.
“But I think Craig could also do with another game because he has not had much time on the pitch so far this season and that has shown up in his two performances for us.”
The Dragons boss has responded to Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Mansfield Town by cancelling a day off this week and putting his players through an additional training session yesterday.
In addition, he is redoubling his efforts to bring in at least one and possibly two loan signings before the weekend.
“Everyone knows I am looking for an experienced striker, but I might have to go for someone younger who I know about or who is recommended to me by people whose judgement I can trust,” he added.
“I will be on the phone again today and tomorrow and I expect to have someone in by the end of the week.”
Smith made it clear he has the finance available to pay wages, even though it might leave him with less room for manoeuvre later on in the season.
“I would be happy to bring in two players this week if they are the right players, because it’s obvious that we need to strengthen the squad and introduce competition for places,” he said. “In an ideal world I would like to keep some of my budget intact in case of further problems down the line, but I have got to do something right now.”
But the Racecourse boss warned that one or two new faces were not the only answer to Wrexham’s current woes, pointing out that Saturday’s team at Field Mill differed in only two instances from that which beat Swindon Town 2-1 last month.
“Only Neil Roberts and Shaun Pejic were missing and a loan player is not going to change things on his own.
“It has got to be a team effort and that means we have to do better with the players we have available. Looking at that team on paper it was, with the possible exception of Jon Newby, the most experienced 11 I could have put out there. And at the moment I need my senior players to stand up and be counted in the way that Neil Roberts and Dennis Lawrence – both good leaders – were doing at the beginning of the season.
“That’s why I’m looking for an experienced striker.”