DEAN SAUNDERS has challenged Wrexham FC goalkeeper Chris Maxwell to make an even bigger impact next season.
The Welsh under 21 shot-stopper ousted Sam Russell to become Wrexham’s number one last season and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Maxwell kept 15 clean sheets and was voted the club’s young player of the season as well as establishing himself as his first keeper in Brian Flynn’s flourishing Wales under 21 side.
Saunders has been pleased with Maxwell’s efforts but the Reds’ boss wants the 19-year-old to work on his footballing skills for next season’s Conference campaign.
“All the best goalkeepers are good with the ball at their feet and we need Chris to be the same,” said Saunders. “He has improved with his feet over the last few months and it’s a key part to the game.
“You need 11 footballers on the pitch and that includes the keeper. At times you want them acting as the sweeper and we’ve been encouraging Maxy to do that.
“I always think of Bruce Grobelaar as the top keeper. He could play a bit and you knew that he would come for everything. Sometimes it didn’t work out but at least you knew he was coming and that is something I’d like Chris to improve on.”
Maxwell’s promotion from understudy to number one at The Racecourse has also been helped by one-to-one coaching from former Aston Villa keeper Michael Oakes.
“It’s key to any young keeper that they have first class coaching to aid their development and Michael Oakes does just that,” added Saunders.
“Maxy has improved so much. He’s a great shot stopper and he’s willing to learn and there’s no reason why he can’t continue with his progress and in a few years time he could make the step up to the Wales senior squad.”
And Maxwell will be back on international duty a week today when Wales head to Austria for an under 21 friendly.
John Toshack’s senior side are in action on May 23 and Swansea midfielder Joe Allen, who had a spell on loan at Wrexham two years ago, has joined the long list of casualties.
The talented midfielder will undergo a shoulder operation that will keep him out of Wales’ May 23 friendly against Croatia in Osijek.
The 20-year-old dislocated his shoulder playing rugby five years ago.
“That’s what happens when little boys play big games,” joked Allen. “As long as I can get back for next season I’ll be happy.”
Saunders, Toshack’s right hand man in the Welsh set up, will make the trip to Croatia but will step up his rebuilding programme at The Racecourse before then and will hopefully reveal more new signings before the end of the week.
He has already snapped up Nat Knight-Percival from Histon and is looking to do more business in the transfer market soon.