ANDY Holt says it's up to experienced players like himself to take the pressure off Wrexham's youngsters, writes Paul Whee-lock.
The left-wing back was one of only five players in the Dragons' squad for Saturday's visit of Northampton Town to have enjoyed a full season in the Football League.
Injuries to senior men like captain Darren Ferguson, Lee Roche, Dean Bennett and Lee McEvilly have meant manager Denis Smith has had to rely on graduates from the club's successful youth set-up, and teenage loanees like Sam Williams and Matt Derbyshire.
Although the starlets have proved their pedigree with a series of fine displays, the 1-0 home defeat to the wily Cobblers proved there's no substitute for experience.
Although boss Smith hopes to have the likes of Ferguson and Bennett back soon, because of the constraints placed on him by administration - he's restricted to a 20-man squad - his young guns can expect plenty more action in Wrexham's hectic run-in.
Although Holt has no doubts over their ability, he feels it's important that he, along with the likes of Dennis Lawrence, Jim Whitley and Danny Williams, make sure they don't carry too heavy a burden as the Reds bid to make the play-offs.
Holt said: 'The gaffer, Kevin Russell and Brian Carey are always telling us we've got to be an example to the young lads, and we completely agree with that.
'The gaffer has done brilliantly because it's very hard to go throughout a season with just 20 players. We all knew there would be times when we'd lose senior players and we'd have to rely on the young lads.
'And the results leading up to the Northampton game proved how well they've done.
'Add to the fact that the Williams brothers and Levi Mackin have been called up to the Wales Under 21s squad, while Jonah's (Mark Jones) got the nod for the full squad, and it shows what good players they are.
'But we shouldn't forget how young they are. Of the five subs on Saturday, I think Levi was the oldest and he's only 19. That means players like myself have to carry more responsibility and that's something I try to thrive on.'
Wrexham travel to Barnet on Saturday looking to improve on 11th place in League Two.
With five first-teamers still on the sidelines, Racecourse chief Smith is hoping the players who've been away on international duty - like Mark Jones, who was set to make his Wales debut last night - come home unscathed.
Meanwhile, centre-back Dave Bayliss has joined Rochdale on a month's loan, while skipper Ferguson has been handed a two-match ban after being found guilty of the use of foul and abusive language against referee Jonathan Moss following the loss to Leyton Orient in January. He will miss the trips to Macclesfield Town (March 14) and Rochdale (March 18).