DENIS SMITH said Josh Johnson has a promising future with Wrexham if he continues to show the right attitude in training.
The Trinidad & Tobago under-21 international could be in line for his full league debut in tomorrow’s trip to Mansfield after he started in the Johnstone’s Paint trophy penalty shoot-out defeat to Rochdale at the Racecourse on Tuesday.
Johnson showed signs of his dangerous pace out on the right as he made only his second start for Wrexham since he moved to Britain in August to join the club. The 25-year-old winger made his full first-team debut in the 4-1 Carling Cup defeat to Birmingham last month.
Smith said he had been encouraged by Johnson’s two starts, but had been less impressed with his five substitute appearances in League Two and called on the winger to show more consistency.
Johnson will be included in the Dragons squad for tomorrow’s trip to Mansfield – and with Smith juggling a sparse squad which continues to be rocked by fresh injury blows, the winger may start if the manager fails to bring in a striker to partner Chris Llewellyn.
“I didn’t look at Tuesday any different to how I would a league game,” said Smith yesterday.
“I played the players I had, so there won’t be a great difference on Saturday. Johnson will be involved, and he may even start.
“He’s got a good chance of becoming a good player,” he added.
“But we’ll have to wait and see.
“It’s a big change for him, moving to another country, he’s just got married, and all those things in a short period of time are a lot to deal with.
“The two times he’s started for me, he’s done well, although two times he’s gone down with cramp. That’s not lack of fitness, it’s tension.”
Smith said Johnson had showed signs of his promise as he grew into the game against Rochdale, citing a cross the winger bent into the Lancashire side’s penalty area which Llewellyn failed to get on the end of.
“Hopefully, he will continue to improve. He’s got something there – the ball he put into the box in the first half was as good a ball as you’ll see anywhere.”
However, Smith said Johnson had failed to impress himself in the games in which he came off the bench, adding: “He’s got pace, so he should be a good impact player, but at the moment that’s not proving to be the case.
“But the two games he’s started, he’s done well, so he’s got to continue to do well in training and we’ll see what happens.”
If Johnson starts tomorrow it may be in the same formation as on Tuesday, which Smith described as an attacking 4-3-3 with Llewellyn up front, Johnson and Matt Done raiding the flanks, with the attack-minded Mark Jones spearheading a midfield of Danny Williams and Matt Crowell.
“Negative people would describe it as a 4-5-1, but to positive people like myself it’s a 4-3-3,” he said. “Johnson’s got something – I’d be happier if he was doing it more consistently, but it was disappointing for him that Dennis (Lawrence) has left, and he’s in another country, another culture. He’s a nice lad, and hopefully he will prove to be useful over the years.”
Meanwhile, the Dragons’ Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Mike Ingham admits his side must shore up their leaky defence if they are to revive their faltering season.
The Dragons have lost their last six league matches, and have been bundled out of the Carling Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Just three clean sheets all season sums up their deficiencies and Ingham said: “It’s not going for us at the moment.
“But we showed signs of improvement against Rochdale in midweek and hopefully we can keep that going and get some decent results, starting with Mansfield.”