PAUL RUTHERFORD will thrive on any stick he receives from Chester fans in tonight’s cross border derby at The Deva Stadium.

The midfielder signed his first professional contract with the Blues and went on to play for Barrow and Southport before joining Wrexham in the summer of 2016.

Rutherford started both derby games last season but most of the flack from Chester supporters was aimed at John Rooney, who had joined Wrexham directly from their arch rivals.

Rooney has moved on so Rutherford could be in the firing line but it is something that will spur him on.

“I think John took most of the stick last season to be honest,” said Rutherford. “I got a little bit but not in comparison to John.

“But I don’t mind, I like getting the stick. I had it when I was at Barrow and Southport so it is nothing new for me to get some stick from Chester fans.

“It does give you that little boost. You want to get one over on them and rub it in their faces a little bit.”

Rooney gave Wrexham the lead in last season’s feisty encounter at The Deva but Chester hit back to earn a 1-1 draw through James Alabi.

Wrexham will be cheered on by 1,200 travelling supporters tonight and Rutherford admits the atmosphere at the derby is special.

“One of my first appearances for Chester was at Wrexham and that was a real eye opener for me,” said Rutherford.

“Playing in the derby as a Wrexham player was probably better. The away game was my favourite game of last season, the atmosphere we created was different class.

“You can see how much it means to the fans and certainly on that day, it transferred over to the players and we were unfortunate not to get three points.

“Hopefully we can correct that this time, the occasion is just the same, we go into the game full of passion and full of pride, and go and get the three points.”

When asked whether he would celebrate if he scored, Rutherford added: “Definitely. I scored against Chester for Barrow and celebrated.

“At the end of the day I am here to do a job. I enjoy scoring goals, they don’t happen often so when they do I want to celebrate them.”

Wrexham sit third in the National League, just three points off top spot, but Rutherford feels the Reds should be in an even better position after drawing games they should have won.

“The disappointing thing is even though we are picking up points and we are still in a strong position, we know it should be better,” added Rutherford.

“We have dropped too many points and we could have had a nice little cushion between us and the other sides chasing the play-offs.

“At the moment, one result either way can change everything for teams and being critical of ourselves, we shouldn’t really be in that position.

“We should be in a position where we do have that little bit of leeway where a positive result pushes us a little bit further away and a negative result we are still in the same sort of position.

“We have dropped too many points and that is something we want to eradicate.”

Dean Keates is focussed on returning from the Deva with three points which would take Wrexham joint top of the National League.

“I don’t want to play it down because the derby is special and the lads know what it is about,” said Keates.

“We give them information and we all know what it means to the town, but ultimately it is about the three points.

“Our aim is to go there and get three points as it is in every single game.

“It is going to be a hotly contested derby, two sets of fans are going to be passionate and up for it.

“All being well it is about the players and not somebody making decisions in the middle of the park.”