DEAN Saunders wants former Premier League star Matt Jansen to spearhead Wrexham’s promotion bid next season.
Even though the 31-year-old has featured just three times since signing in March, Dragons boss Saunders is hoping to persuade the ex-Blackburn Rovers striker to extend his Racecourse stay on an incentive-based deal.
The pursuit of Jansen, who scored one goal for the club before picking up an injury, was the major announcement as Saunders confirmed new contract offers for defenders Mike Williams and Mansour Assoumani and midfielder Jamie McCluskey.
Although Jansen is having a minor knee operation, Saunders said: “It would be a major coup for the club if I can persuade him to join us. There is no doubt in my mind that after a full pre-season training, he would get 20 goals.
“When he joined us in March he was hoping to rediscover his enthusiasm for the game and he certainly did that. He enjoyed the training and being involved again so I’m hoping that remains the case.
“When we had him on the pitch, he stood out as an excellent player and made a difference until he got injured.”
Veteran goalkeepers Gavin Ward and Anthony Williams, young defender Chris Marriott and former Feyenoord utility man Patrick Gyan have been released.
Highly-rated 18-year-old defender Kai Edwards made his Dragons debut in Saturday’s final game of the season at home to Weymouth. In doing so, he became the 46th different player to be used by Saunders and his predecessor Brian Little this term.
Saunders said: “I would like to thank those players leaving for their efforts on our behalf this season. It has not been for any lack of effort that we have fallen short in our goals.”
Saunders confirmed he would be remaining in charge for the 2009-10 campaign after the 2-0 victory over relegated Weymouth, a result which ended a run of four straight 1-0 defeats and ensured Wrexham finish a disappointing first season in the Blue Square Premier in 10th.
Geoff Moss is standing down from his role of chairman and will leave the day-to-day running of the club to newly-appointed chief executive Paul Retout.
Moss, who launched a takeover of the Dragons with Neville Dickens three years ago, has also confirmed he is investigating ways to improve the quality of the poor Racecourse playing surface.
Those players remaining at the club have been given a fortnight off, but they will return to Colliers Park on May 12 and train twice a week through to the start of pre-season at the beginning of July. During that time, each player will also get an additional two weeks off as Saunders introduces a new regime.