STOKE CITY’S Premier League stars will provide Wrexham with their toughest test of pre-season, according to boss Gary Mills.
The Reds manager has just over a fortnight to fine tune his squad ahead of their National League opener at Bromley on August 8 and welcomes Mark Hughes’ outfit to The Racecourse on Wednesday evening (7pm).
Hughes, who grew up in Ruabon, is expected to name a strong side to take on Mills’ men with the likes of Peter Crouch, Jack Butland and former Reds forward Jon Walters set to be involved.
It is the first meeting of the two sides since January’s FA Cup third round tie, when Stoke eventually ran out 3-1 winners despite Mark Carrington heading Wrexham into a shock second-half lead.
“It’s certainly our toughest game yet, it’s going to be mostly their first-team so that tells you all you need to know,” said Mills, who has no fresh injury concerns following the 0-0 draw at Tamworth last weekend.
“The game at Tamworth was more realistic in terms of the sort of opposition we will be facing this season, but this is a good test for the players and it’s nice to take on Premier League opponents.
“We’ve had the friendlies against the Under 21 sides and this will be a similar test technically although we are dealing with a much greater level of quality.
“However, I think it gives the players a lift to play against the likes of Stoke and we are going to have to be at our best to compete with them.
“I’m hopeful though if we keep our discipline we’ll create openings.
“At the end of the day it’s great for the club to have Stoke coming as these sort of teams don’t come here every week.
“There are a few connections there with Stoke like the FA Cup tie last season and obviously Mark Hughes’ links to the area so they’ll know what to expect and it’ll be tough.”
Mills expects centre-back Jamal Fyfield to play a part tonight having returned from a thigh problem.
“Jamal is back and has had a couple of training sessions and seems fine, so I’d expect him to play a part against Stoke,” he explained.
“In terms of players coming back obviously it is a boost for us. It’s been a little frustrating and some players have had more minutes than I’d have originally liked, but that’s the way it goes and now we’ve got more options.
“It’s also given me the chance to look at some of the younger players who might otherwise not have had that chance. They’ve impressed me and have shown me what good players they are.”