WREXHAM manager Dean Saunders is set to gamble on youth team striker Obi Anoruo in tonight’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Eastwood Town.
The Nigerian-born 18-year-old – in his second year at the Racecourse school of excellence – has earned the promotion by regularly scoring in the Youth Alliance League and the Racecourse boss dropped the broadest of hints that the youngster could make his senior debut at Coronation Park.
“Obi trained with us this morning and he will probably be playing tomorrow,” said Saunders. “He’s quick and mobile, he knows where the goal is and he deserves a chance.
“It’s fair to say he was very surprised when I pulled him over this morning, but he’s adjusted quickly and we’ll take it from there.”
Anoruo, who figured in a pre-season first team friendly at Colwyn Bay during the summer and lives with his grandparents in Liverpool, is likely to replace the experienced Michael Proctor, who missed several good chances during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at the Racecourse.
And Saunders has not ruled out further changes in personnel, particularly in midfield, as Wrexham bid to overcome the Unibond Premier League side for the right to entertain Brackley Town in the first round of the competition next month.
“With Andy Fleming and Joe Allen missing we lacked a bit of something in midfield on Saturday,” admitted the Dragons boss.
“But I thought Neil Taylor coped well in an unfamiliar role and he got into the box on a couple of occasions to test the keeper.
“We missed some good chances in the game which should have put us in complete control, but fair play to Eastwood they made it difficult for us. They were up for their biggest game of the season to date and at times they matched us.
“But that’s what the FA Cup does for underdogs and they played really well. We could not expect to have it all our own way and at times we were looking for someone to step up and take a bit of responsibility on the ball.
“At other times during the game we had little spells in which we played the sort of football I want to see and I’ll be looking for more of that in the replay tomorrow.”
Saunders said his back five had done well at the weekend which suggests that Mike Williams, back in contention after completing his recovery from concussion, will have to settle for a place on the bench this evening.
“Having won three games on the trot we are at half time as far as the tie with Eastwood is concerned,” he added.
“We kept a clean sheet on Saturday for the first time since I came in and it shows that the winning mentality that I want is beginning to show through.
“We’ll have a few ups and downs I’m sure, but I could not fault any of the players for their effort on Saturday, so I am expecting them all to roll up their sleeves tomorrow and work hard again.
“They are playing to get us through to the next round but they also need to show me that they deserve to keep their place in the team for the game against Lewes on Saturday.
“I have got a 100% record from our away games so far and I expect that to continue at Eastwood.
“That’s all I’m interested in and you can be sure that everyone here is aware of that.”
Wales defender Steve Evans, one of the few Wrexham players to have worked with Saunders prior to his appointment, said the manager’s enthusiasm was infectious.
“The place has been buzzing since he came in and it’s as though everyone has a new lease of life,” he said.
“I’m really enjoying my football at the moment and now I’m back in the side I realise that I have to maintain high standards to keep my place.
“The gaffer has brought in Ashley Westwood, who has a lot of experience and is both a good talker and good organiser, which helps all the players around him.
“I feel we can develop a good partnership and we kept a clean sheet on Saturday. Now we have to do it all again and hope that we manage to put away the chances I’m sure we will get.
“The history of the FA Cup is littered with surprise results, but we mean to make sure that we get the job done at the second time of asking.
“That being the case we can take the confidence from a five-match unbeaten run into Saturday’s home match with Lewes.”