NEW Wrexham goalkeeper Gavin Ward won’t have too long to get to know his new team-mates as he is being thrown into action tonight for his debut.
Ward, 37, signed for Wrexham yesterday after being released by cross-border rivals Chester City, and will be given handed a debut tonight as the Dragons travel to Stebonheath Park to face Welsh Premier outfit Llanelli in the Premier Cup quarter-finals.
This is the third time Ward has worked with Little having played under him at Leicester and Stoke City, and is relishing the chance of getting first-team football this season after being kept on the bench by regular City stopper John Danby.
“I enjoyed my time there (at Chester),” said Ward. “I was only there for this season, about six months, but I haven’t played a game for them so far and the gaffer came to me last week and said that Wrexham had been on the phone and that it was up to me if I wanted to go. He said he didn’t want to lose me, but I hadn’t played this year for them, so it was a chance to come here to Wrexham and stake my place as a first choice here.
“I didn’t need any kind of persuasion to come here to Wrexham. I got the call last week, and to work with Brian (Little) again, who I’ve worked with twice in my career before was an extra spur.
“I like the way he works, and I know all about Wrexham anyway from my friend Brian Carey, and I’ve played Wrexham before obviously. I hadn’t seen the training ground before, but coming down here yesterday and seeing the facilities on offer, it’s just fantastic, the set-up here is brilliant, the ground is a great little ground – we just need to start winning games.”
And Ward admitted he knew exactly what he was getting himself into, with a relegation fight as well as a goalkeeping battle with Anthony Williams and Michael Jones for the number one jersey.
He added: “There are some good players here. I think it’s maybe just a case of confidence, and maybe the club is stuck in a rut.
“Obviously Brian has only come in over the last month or so, and he wants to change things around and do things his way and hopefully we can get some confidence and start winning football matches.
“No-one is given any divine right to play in any football team, and that’s the way it should be. Especially in goalkeeping terms because competition is good. Obviously the person who shows the most form will stay in the team and whoever that is is obviously good for Wrexham football club.
“I know a bit about Anthony and have come across him a few times in the past. The other lad I’ve only ever seen once or twice and I don’t know him personally, but I’ve heard he’s got a lot of potential and is a good build and hopefully we can work together. Now that I’m coaching as well, which I enjoy, we can all get on well.”
Wrexham travel to Stebonheath Park tonight hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s disappointment in the competition, which saw them crash out in the last eight at Newport County, despite taking the lead through Michael Carvill.
And manager Little was adamant his side will not be taking anything for granted tonight in South Wales and will treat the Welsh Premier side with the necessary respect.
“We are looking forward to the game,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to try and win football matches – all football matches – and there’s no way we’re approaching it as anything other than positive. We will try to win, and we are picking a team that hopefully gives us a chance. But we will also respect them of course, I think that’s very important.
“Joey (Jones) watched them on the weekend and they played very well, so we recognise that it’s not an easy game for ourselves.
“In our current climate it’s not an easy game for us, but we will try very hard to win it. We need to get used to winning football matches and we will try to start with this one.”
And Little admitted he will be taking a strong team to South Wales, while the rest of the squad will be in action in a reserve match at Carlisle.
WREXHAM (probable): Ward, Spender, S Evans, Pejic, Taylor, Mackin, Murtagh, Mark Jones, Roberts, Llewellyn, Proctor.
l TNS’ Cup clash at Carmarthen and Welshpool’s home tie with Cardiff City both fell foul of the weather.