Wrexham AFC manager Dean Keates ready to hang up boots


Richard Williams

DEAN KEATES admits his playing days have almost certainly come to an end.

The 38-year-old midfielder began this season at Rushall Olympic but he stopped turning out for the part-timers when he took over as manager of former club Wrexham in October.

Such is the progress made since he took charge, Keates signed a new contract last week which keeps him at The Racecourse until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Although Keates never ruled out making himself available, especially in the event of injuries and suspension, when he was appointed as Gary Mills’ successor, the Reds boss says he is unlikely to feature in a competitive match.

“You always want to play as long as you can but I would have thought I have finished,” said Keates.

“I have not trained since I came in and got the job full-time. My training has dropped off. I have joined in once or twice with the lads but the next day I am in absolute bits and my left thigh is hurting.

“The playing side, it is more recreational now. I might have a game now and again for the fans’ team as I have in the past but I can’t see me playing competitively any more.”

Keates, who won promotion six times with three different clubs and also captained Wrexham to FA Trophy glory at Wembley in 2013, included Mark Carrington, Russell Penn, Paul Rutherford and Ollie Shenton in his midfield for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Aldershot Town.

With more options available amongst the substitutes, Keates is happy with the midfielders he has available.

“You look at the list, I have got the four that were in on Saturday and  Anthony Barry, Rob Evans and Leo Smith on top of that,” said Keates.

“I am not needed, there are seven bodies there. They represent the football club so there is no point in me playing.”

Keates continues to run the rule over a trialist midfielder who plays for a National League South club but another one  is no longer training with the Reds.

“We are going to have another look at the young lad over the next few weeks,” said Keates. “He came through at a Championship academy and the last two years he has been playing in National League South.

“He has done okay, he is playing mens football now so we will keep an eye on him and see how it goes.

“The other one, there was too much politics with international clearance.”

Keates revealed that a winger is also training with Wrexham and if anyone impresses, he would have no hesitation in signing them.

“We have got another lad in on trial this week just to have a look at him, a winger, and we will see how that one goes as well,” said Keates. “The opportunity is there, we have freed up a fair bit of money over the last couple of months and John Rooney moving on has freed up even more.

“If something becomes available that ticks our boxes then we will get them in but if you are looking at long-term, all the better and decent players will be nailed down and playing.

“You have to look at what is floating around and if you can get one or two in that can improve us, we will get them in the building.

“What we have got left in the building is what I want in the building. We will go with that and if we add one or two along the way, we will add them.

“But players coming in need to be bringing something and add to us to go forward. They will come in and we will look at each other but if they don’t impress, they won’t stay.”

Wrexham’s six game unbeaten run came to an end against Aldershot and although disappointed with the second half performance, Keates says big steps have been made  after reshaping his squad in January.

“What you have to understand is it is very much a nucleus of a new team been put together in a short space of time,” added Keates.

“There has been massive improvements from what it was, we have been on a decent run and it has come to an end. But the second half was nowhere near good enough.”

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