By Liam Moakes 29/03 Updated: 29/03 15:28
REDDITCH United have pulled off a tremendous coup in their battle to retain Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division status by capturing the signing of former Aston Villa star and ex-England midfielder Lee Hendrie for the remainder of the season.
Reds chairman Chris Swan has again shown his commitment to ensuring the club clinch survival and the addition of 34-year-old Hendrie is the biggest statement yet that the Reds mean business in their remaining six matches.
Hendrie's arrival at the Valley Stadium makes it a family affair there as his younger brother, winger Stuart, is currently on loan from Hinckley United and between them they make it a hat-trick of Hendrie connections for United as their father and former Birmingham City player Paul also managed the Reds.
Redditch boss Graham Hyde believes the addition of Hendrie, who has joined on a non-contract basis from Kidderminster Harriers, will excite fans and spur his side on to beat the drop.
Hyde said: "It will be great to have such experience playing alongside some of our young up and coming talent.
"Lee is a huge asset to the club and I hope the fans are there in force to welcome him to our next home game against Evesham United on April 7 (3pm).
"Lee will go straight into our squad for tomorrow's match at Hitchin Town and we hope he and the rest of the lads can put in a performance and earn a victory which can take us a long way towards clinching safety."
Hendrie, who has been in excellent form for Harriers this season, spent 14 years at Aston Villa where he made 251 appearances, scoring 21 goals.
He represented his country on 13 occasions as he turned out for the England U21s 12 times and earned one full cap for the England senior side in 1998 against the Czech Republic.
Hendrie also lists Stoke City, Sheffield United, Leicester City and Derby County amongst his former clubs along with a short spell abroad at Bandung in the Liga Primer Indonesia (Indonesian Premier League), where he became the first English player to play in that league.
Tomorrow's visit to Hitchin is yet another crucial match for the Reds, who picked up a valuable point on Saturday as they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at home to Bashley.
Hitchin sit six places above the Reds in 12th place but are just four points above Hyde's side so an away win tomorrow would drag the hosts into the battle for survival and leave the entire bottom half of the division still sweating.
Redditch, three points above the drop zone but with a much better goal difference than 19th placed Evesham, were buoyed by a draw against Bashley in which they hit back from their woeful 4-0 loss at home to Frome Town last Tuesday.
Stuart Hendrie was again impressive and he headed just wide early on before Lee Osborne struck the post in the 13th minute.
However, Bashley took a 38th minute lead when Liam Green fed Dave Allen to score, before the Reds levelled in the 46th minute when Hendrie converted following a pass from Joey Halsall.
The visitors regained the lead in the 55th minute when Gary Middleton got on the end of Allen's corner, only for the hosts to level again 12 minutes from time through substitute Luke Benbow's deflected strike.
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