DAN NOLAN feels privileged to be entrusted with helping rising stars try to become Wrexham first team regulars.

While the 2019/20 National League campaign was one to forget for Dean Keates’ senior side, the potential stars of the future have revelled.

The Reds Under-19s were crowned National League U19 Alliance Division H champions, while several young guns were handed first team appearances in both the Scottish Challenge Cup and FA Trophy.

“It’s been brilliant, and a real reward for the efforts of everyone this season,” said Nolan, whose side won 12 of 15 outings, scoring 74 goals and conceding just 14 before the campaign was ended abruptly due to the coronavirus crisis.

“I think we’ve been the best team in the league and it’s great to be awarded the title, especially after we thought it might end up being null and void.

“There is some real talent in the youth team and it’s showed.”

And it wasn’t just the National League Alliance that Nolan’s young guns made an impact.

Mathew Jones, Max Cleworth, Cian Williams, Bobby Beaumont, Callum Huxley, Kyle Robinson-Murray and Jake Bickerstaff, who found the net against Ayr, all made first team appearances, with Lewis Parry, Jac Humphreys, Jamie Nash and Sam Williams included in matchday squads.

“It wasn’t just the fact that they were involved, but that they made an impact,” said Nolan. “And it’s great that it wasn’t just one or two of them, but seven, eight, nine of them were involved.

“It’s important that when they got the chance it wasn’t just a case of participating, but the fact that they showed the maturity levels to be involved, and they looked comfortable.”

The coronavirus pandemic looks set to hit football hard, especially at non-league level. Talk of a salary cap is rife, while reduced crowds will impact clubs’ finances even further after a tough five months - and counting - of inactivity.

But there might be a silver lining if young players are given a greater chance to make it in the game.

“It’s been an utterly horrible situation,” said Nolan. “But the silver lining for young players is that they could become more important to their clubs, who will be looking to give them a bigger chance to become first team regulars given the impact on finances coronavirus has, and will have, going forward.

“Dean is also willing to give young players a chance. He’s a firm believer that if someone is good enough, regardless of age, they deserve a chance.”

That will be music to the ears of most fans up and down the country who love nothing more than seeing ‘one of their own’ make a mark on the first team.

Neil Taylor, Danny Ward and Chris Maxwell have all progressed through the Wrexham youth team since the club dropped into the National League, the trio graduating to Premier League and Championship level, while Jonny Smith has flourished in the Football League.

Beyond that quartet, who have all been involved with Wales at international level, are the likes of Rob Evans and Jake Phillips, who combine coaching in the Wrexham academy with semi-professional football, while Leo Smith has recently signed a full-time deal with The New Saints.

“With any club, particularly Wrexham, supporters love seeing academy players in the first team,” said Nolan. “There’s nothing like watching one of your own give it their heart and soul, run around throwing themselves into tackles.

“Young players are the lifeblood of the club and it’s a privilege to be able to help young people try and achieve their goals.”

It would take something special for one of the current crop to emulate the feats of arguably Wrexham’s greatest academy graduate - Joey Jones.

Jones, who won two European Cups with Liverpool as well as 72 international caps with Wales, coached at Wrexham after hanging up his boots in 1992.

The 65-year-old is no longer employed by the club, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for nurturing Wrexham’s young talent.

“He’s watched pretty much every single home game this season and still comes to training,” said Nolan of legend Jones.

“He is Mr Wrexham and it’s great that I get the chance to speak to him every day. I can ask his opinion whenever I need to.

“It’s not just me he helps. He’s there for every single player, he’s always offering advice and he’s completely selfless in wanting the best for everyone he comes in contact with.”

The nature of football means that not every player enjoys a 20-year professional career and the trio of Doug Tharme, Matty Sargent and Jack Thorn, who all have first team experience, were released by Keates this summer.

“I want what’s best for them,” added Nolan. “The reality is that not every player makes it, but they are still young enough to have a good career in the game. I want to see them continue to develop and it’s important that I’m there for them.”