Phil Parkinson Wrexham

Phil Parkinson Wrexham, Coventry City v Wrexham - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Coventry Building Society Arena. Pic: Getty Images.

FA Cup Glory Is Great . . . But Wrexham Boss Phil Parkinson Wants To Climb The League Ladder

By Gareth James

Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson has challenged his players to prove they belong at a higher level as they prepare for Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at Sheffield United.

The National League promotion contenders face a test of their mettle as their fourth-round tie against the Sky Bet Championship high-flyers is played to a conclusion at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

The two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw when they met at the Racecourse Ground last month and now there is the added incentive of knowing victory will earn a home tie against Premier League Tottenham.

Parkinson said: “The cup is just a bonus, helping raise the profile of the club and players.

“I think a lot of players have shown they can live in that company and now the challenge is for them to show they have the consistency to do it not just in one-off games.

“It was a great first game. Obviously, we would have loved to have got through at the first time of asking but there is another chance for us. It’s a great opportunity to play at a terrific stadium and test ourselves again.

“The lads haven’t spoken about it but it is a great draw and we will do everything we can to try to get to that stage.”

One player who continues to catch the eye is Liverpool-born forward Paul Mullin, who has scored 27 goals across the Red Dragons’ National League and FA Cup campaigns this season.

The 28-year-old is eligible for Wales and has been tipped for a potential call-up to Rob Page’s squad.

Parkinson said: “It’s very rare for any player outside of a League set-up to get an international call-up, however, he played very well against Sheffield United and it wouldn’t surprise me if his name is being mentioned.”

Wrexham, who beat Championship side Coventry in the previous round, are high in confidence as they advance on and off the field.

The club have been given a new lease of life since being purchased by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney two years ago this week.

While a Disney documentary has brought new exposure, Parkinson has built a side that currently sit second in the National League, three points behind leaders Notts County with two games in hand.

Ending the club’s 15-year absence from the Football League is the top priority, but the cup run has also caught the imagination with 4,700 fans expected to travel to South Yorkshire.

Parkinson said: “It has been a very rapid progression on and off the pitch and the club is ambitious.

“It is important we don’t get carried away because we have got a huge challenge ahead of us from now until the end of the season, but I feel we are equipped to tackle it full on.

“Everybody knows the focus is promotion and it is an exciting title challenge, but we have gone into the cup games saying it is a break from the league and let’s enjoy the occasions.

“We are going to Bramall Lane looking to thrive on the atmosphere and I’m sure we will.”

Wrexham will be without new signing Eoghan O’Connell who is ineligible, while Reece Hall-Johnson is out injured and Callum McFadzean is doubtful with a knock.

Wrexham were starting a 12th season in the fifth tier of English football when Reynolds and McElhenney announced their intention to buy Wales’ oldest club in September 2020.

Deadpool actor Reynolds – one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator McElhenney completed their £2million takeover from the Wrexham Supporters Trust the following February and life in north Wales has never been the same since.

Heavy investment has transformed Wrexham from National League stragglers into serious promotion contenders.

The Dragons lost a semi-final play-off to Grimsby last season after finishing runners-up to Stockport.

They are currently battling with Notts County for the one automatic-promotion spot, three points behind the Magpies but with two games in hand, and dreaming of FA Cup glory.

The fly-on-the-wall ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary aired on American TV channel FX last year and introduced the club – owners, management, players and fans – to an international audience.

The show was warmly received and Wrexham’s profile is now so great that their FA Cup tie against Sheffield United was the most followed football game that day across ESPN’s website and digital
platforms in the US.

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