ODD man out Shaun Whalley admits he is straining at the leash to play in Wrexham’s friendly with Blackpool at the Racecourse on Saturday after missing the club’s first pre-season game against Wolves last weekend.
The 21-year-old midfielder was the only one of manager Brian Little’s six summer signings not to figure against the Championship side, but he is confident of recovering from a minor ankle injury this week.
Whalley, who joined the Dragons from Accrington Stanley, agreed the setback could not have come at a worse time.
“I’ve done all the running, but almost as soon as the balls came out in training I was injured,” he said yesterday.
“It happened the day before our practice match with Shrewsbury last week so that was obviously very disappointing.
“But hopefully I’ll be back in contention for Saturday. I’m one of those people who enjoys all the pre-season work, especially when I’m at a new club and feel it’s important to make a good impression. But injuries are an occupational hazard and it’s no use moaning because you just have to get on with it.”
Impatient to rejoin his colleagues on the training ground, Whalley said physiotherapist Mel Pejic had stressed the importance of making a full recovery.
“There’s a temptation to try and do too much when you have missed out on a game at this time of the year and that’s particularly true of me because I hate being injured,” he added.
“I would have liked to be back in training sooner, but Mel has been reining me in for a few days and trying to keep me steady.
“He’s doing a great job of it as well and when I do start back I know the ankle will be okay. I tweaked it a little bit but it was not too bad and I’m pretty confident I’ll be available for Saturday.”
Asked for his verdict on Wrexham’s opening run-out against Wolves, he said: “I was really impressed with our performance.
“I didn’t know too much about many of the lads here at Wrexham, apart from playing against them towards the end of last season, but I don’t think the performance on Saturday could have been much better.
“Winning the game was not as important as producing the right sort of performance and there wouldn’t have been too many complaints on either score. I was pleased for everyone even though if we were in the season it might have reduced my chances of getting a game.
“But the gaffer’s just had a word that he hopes I’m fit for Saturday and I assured him that I would be there.
“To be honest I’m not fussed where I play although I prefer it up front.
“There are obviously a few decent players there already so we’ll see, but I think the squad is pretty strong all round and competition for places will be pretty hot.
“I need to make up for a bit of lost time but it’s not as though I have a great deal to prove at this stage, otherwise the gaffer would not have signed me.”
Whalley was joined in the treatment room yesterday by Wes Baynes, who scored Saturday’s winner but picked up an ankle injury and Little said it would be at least a week before Conall Murtagh returns to training after being hospitalised by a viral infection.
On Whalley’s prospects of facing Blackpool, the Dragons boss added: “We obviously want him fit sooner rather than later because no-one can afford to miss out too much at this stage of our preparations.”
Wrexham have confirmed tha t their Blue Square Premier match at Rushden & Diamonds, which was scheduled for Saturday August 16, has been put back 24 hours.
The Dragons requested the switch to allow more recovery time after their televised date at York City on Thursday August 14.
Buckley & District Reds are meeting tomorrow at the town’s cricket club (8pm). Non-members are welcome to join on the night.
Meanwhile, Wrexham will continue their pre-season preparations with a behind-closed-doors today at home against Tranmere.
Little and his predecessor at Prenton Park Ronnie Moore have agreed on a format of splitting the game into three half-hour sessions. That should allow the two managers scope to tinker with line-ups and formations.
Ex-Rovers full-back Carl Tremarco will be looking to make an impact against his former club, after having signed a new two-year contract with the Dragons earlier in the summer.