WREXHAM yesterday handed England semi-pro international Matt Baker another chance of League football - and he is determined to grasp it with both hands.
The Hereford United goalkeeper spent four years with the Edgar Street club, but yesterday penned a 12-month deal with the Dragons. And he is in no doubt that he can make a big impact with a Football League side after being released by Hull City as a youngster.
"I see this as my big chance," said Baker. "Without a doubt, this was purely a football decision. I was offered more money at different clubs but I did my homework first because this is a big move for me. At this stage of my career it's not about financial concerns.
"Wrexham seemed the right place." The 24-year-old was pushed straight into a training session yesterday, minutes after meeting new boss Denis Smith for the first time and sealing his free transfer.
But although the Dragons manager may not know his new signing personally, he has certainly seen enough to believe Baker is a good investment and is ready to provide stiff competition for veteran number one Andy Dibble.
"I've seen him a few times and he has ability," said Smith. "I wanted a goalkeeper with a bit of experience and I think we've got a good one. He's an England semi-pro international and has just come off a successful tou r with them. He's a good age at 24 and now he's got a big chance to prove himself.
"Andy has done fantastically well for me, but he's not getting any younger. Matt must believe he can come in and become number one. He must look at Andy's age and think he can overtake him.
"Matt is a good goalkeeper and he can strike a clean ball, which is important."
Smith met with wing-back Paul Edwards yesterday, although it looks like the former Swindon Town man will join Blackpool.
But there was good news for the Dragons boss, with central-defender
Craig Morgan today expected to sign a new deal.
And Smith has other reasons to be cheerful. The signings of midfielders Danny Williams and Dean Bennett, in addition to Baker, add more competition to the Dragons ranks.
In Baker, Smith has brought in an ambitious player who was recently voted the best keeper in the Conference, with his Hereford side narrowly missing out on promotion.
"I want Andy's number one shirt but I'm sure he'll have a few words to say about that," said Baker. "I know he's getting on a bit and to be honest that was a factor. I was offered more money at a big Second Division club but I wanted to come here. I want to be number one.
"I spoke to my mate, Paul Parry, who played here for Wales last week and he said what a great ground it is and that the atmosphere can be fantastic.
"I know I can play at this level. Now it's up to me."