DEAN KEATES believes the long lay-off because of the coronavirus pandemic and a packed fixture programme at the start of the 2020-21 campaign has contributed to a lengthy injury list at The Racecourse.

Keates travelled to Solihull Moors for last Saturday's FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie with only 15 fit first-team players, captain Shaun Pearson among those sitting out the 4-0 defeat.

Although fit-again duo Anthony Jeffrey and Jake Bickerstaff returned for Tuesday's goalless draw with Barnet, defenders Theo Vassell and Reece Hall-Johnson hobbled off late in the game.

The matches have come thick and fast since the season, delayed due to Covid-19, kicked off at the start of October.

The pandemic meant the 2019-20 National League campaign ended early in March and Keates feels the long spell without competitive fixtures is a big factor in teams picking up so many injuries.

"We sat and spoke with all the staff about it after the Barnet game about the sports science side," said Keates.

"I have spoken with people in football the last few days and Football League teams are suffering with it; a lot of people have picked up injuries.

"Someone put up a statistic, I think there were nine hamstring injuries in the first weekend of the Bundesliga when they started back.

"Five or six months without competitive football is a long time.

"Pre-season is where you lay your ground work. Pre-season games are as competitive as they can be but you can't always mirror the intensity or pressure they operate under in a proper game when the season starts."

The Barnet stalemate was Wrexham's seventh game in 25 days and the Reds would have played an eighth fixture in the opening month but Saturday's home match with Sutton was postponed because five players from within the club tested positive for Covid-19.

With a packed fixture list, Keates admits there has been little time for players to recover properly between outings, although the majority of injuries have not been serious.

"We had a long time off but with the injuries we have picked up, there are only two that I would class as long term," said Keates.

"One is Shaun and that was enforced on us with his operation, and Mark Carrington's hamstring is a lot more severe than everybody else's.

"The rest of the group are only minimal. When the physio department talk about grade one, grade two and grade three injuries, we are suffering with a lot of grade ones which are purely down to the fact it is fatigue.

"And with the games coming as they have been, it has been relentless and one or two who have not played for a long period have picked up little niggles.

"When you go Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Monday, Saturday, Saturday, Tuesday, you end up coming away from the part of the game that you have to keep on top of and that is the conditioning side.

"The leg weights are massive but we have not been able to figure that into it because of the volume of midweek games. That side has been left.

"Grade ones normally get nullified when you are in good condition, and your legs are powerful and strong; they kind of counter balance against picking up these slight strains."

Wrexham, without a game this weekend following the cup exit, return to league action at Weymouth on Saturday November 14.

Keates is hoping that the break will benefit his players who have been given training programmes whilst self isolating as a result of the positive tests.

"It is a chance for us to reset and regroup over these next two weeks," added Keates.

"Individual programmes have been put out to the players and they will be doing a lot of body weight conditioning during their isolation period so their bodies are as strong as they can be when we come back."