Welsh Premier blog: TNS add experience to bolster title run-in; Harrison warns of Airbus threat

The New Saints have moved to bolster their squad ahead of the second-stage of the season with the arrival of central midfielder Lee Fowler.

The 30-year-old arrives at Park Hall as free agent having been released from Kidderminster Harriers last month and the former Welsh Under-21 international counts Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Newport County, Oxford United and Wrexham among a lengthy list of former clubs.

TNS director of football Craig Harrison is hoping that Fowler’s arrival will now have a similar impact on his squad to that of former Football League veteran Kenny Lunt at Welsh Premier rivals Bala Town.

“You look at the impact that Kenny Lunt has had at Bala, he’s gone there and done great – he’s a senior pro, he’s calm and quality and we’ve got a lot of young energetic players but I just think we needed something a little bit different to add to the midfield area.

Fowler’s arrival adds new vigor to the familiar-looking Saints midfield trio of Aeron Edwards, Chris Seargeant and Sam Finely. And although the Saints possess the strongest midfield in the league, Harrison believes his experience provides a welcome boost ahead of the end of season run-in.

“What I look to always try and do is bring something different with every signing and he’ll bring experience to our team and squad.”

“In the last two or three years I’ve brought in lots of younger players which has brought us enthusiasm and lots of energy and lots of quality but I’ve lost three senior players as in Nicky Ward, Scotty Ruscoe and Steve Evans – we do have two or three experienced lads in Paul Harrison, Matty Williams and Wildey but he brings more experience to the team in a vital position.

“He’s come in to play football but the same goes to everyone, you’ve got to earn your place in the team and no one has got a guarantee to start every game. The competition in the squad is fierce and that’s the way I like it.”

Having signed outside of the transfer window, Fowler is unavailable to play in TNS’ forthcoming Welsh Cup tie against Carmarthen but could make his debut in the top-of-the-table clash against Airbus on February 22nd.

The match is the first of two second-phase league fixtures between the two title contenders, with TNS currently in the driving seat with a six-point lead at the summit of the WPL.

“Airbus have strengthened quite a bit, but on our day we are as good as anyone as we’ve shown in European games, so we’ve got experience in the back-end of season with good players who have won the league in the last couple of seasons and before that.”

This stage last season TNS led Airbus by seven-points before eventually cruising to the league championship at a canter, winning the title by 22-points – however this time Harrison expects a far tougher test from the Wingmakers.

“I expected them this season to be hot on our heels because last season was a bit of a freak really, that’s not happened before and never will again, it’s always been close. This season we know what we have to do – we’ve been there on numerous occasions and know how to win the league.”

UPDATE: TNS’ Welsh Cup tie against Carmarthen for Tuesday night has been postponed and rescheduled to be played at Park Hall this Saturday (2.30).

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