ANDY MANGAN will go into the new Conference campaign in excellent shape after shedding the pounds.
The 23-year-old striker, handed a five month suspension by the Football Association last July for his involvement in a betting scandal, admitted there was an issue with his fitness when he resumed playing again with Wrexham in January.
Although his team-mates returned for pre-season training earlier this month, Mangan was back working in the gym with fitness coach Mal Purchase in June in a bid to replace body fat with muscle gain.
Now a lot leaner, Mangan is feeling in tip-top condition.
“I feel great,” said Mangan. “Pre-season is all about getting your match fitness as well as trying different things.
“Obviously we have played teams we won’t be facing this season so it is just a case of getting fit and avoiding injuries.
“I was back a month before pre-season started and everything is going well so far.
“I have lost weight but I have put muscle on. I have been in with Mal Purchase and I can see my muscles and six-pack again which I couldn’t last season and that was probably noticeabale.
“I have lost 11 kilogrammes of fat and about half a stone of weight. But then I have put muscle on so I am still about 11 stone and two or three pounds which is probably my fighting weight. It does feel noticeable.”
Putting on muscle will help with changes to his game that Mangan is looking to implement.
“I am trying to change my game a bit,” said Mangan. “I am trying to be a bit more aggressive and stronger around the box, things like that. I have learnt that from the gaffer in pre-season.
“My body is feeling great thanks to Mal with the work I have done over summer.”
Although he is working with a reduced budget, manager Dean Saunders has still
made eight new signings.
Three of the new recruits - Andy Morrell, David Brown and Kevin Gall - can be deployed in attack and Mangan, who scored eight goals in 23 appearances after joining Wrexham from Forest Green Rovers for an undisclosed fee in January, welcomed the competition for a starting place.
“I am looking at having a very good season personally,” said Mangan. “And as a team we are looking at having a really good go this season.
“I think the gaffer has made some really good signings and in training all the new players look very good.
“And we have got players like Gareth Taylor and Marc Williams who are coming back from injury last season.
“We have got a really good squad and everyone is fighting for places which is really good for the team.
“Competition is good for anyone. No-one knows who is going to play so you have got to be on your best form to be selected which is always good for a striker.”
Wrexham open their Conference campaign against Cambridge United at The Racecourse on Saturday August 14 but Mangan highlighted the importance of performing well in pre-season.
“I can’t wait for the season to start - I’m sure all of the lads will tell you that,” said Mangan.
“We are looking forward to the season but the hard work starts now. That is what we have really got to focus on.
“It is always nice winning in pre-season because it sets you up for the season to come.
“We are just working hard and come August 14, hopefully we are bang at it.”
Wrexham continue their pre-season programme against Preston North End at The Racecourse tonight (7.30pm).
Former Wrexham favourites, midfielder Darren Ferguson and striker Kevin Russell, are the management team in charge at the Championship outfit and are expected to bring a strong squad which could include another ex-Red, defender Craig Morgan.
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