SHAUN PEARSON is backing Wrexham to finally clinch a return to the Football League next season.

Phil Parkinson’s side finished runners-up to Stockport County this term but the promotion dream came to an end when the Reds lost 5-4 against Grimsby Town in the National League play-off semi-final.

Wrexham are now planning for a 15th campaign in non-league but Pearson, who spent four years at The Racecourse before rejoining the Mariners last summer, expects his former club to challenge for the title in 2022-23.

“It is unbelievable and I would be amazed if it doesn’t end soon,” said Pearson, who will be playing in League Two next season after Grimsby beat Solihull Moors 2-1 in the play-off final.

“Second half of this season, if they weren’t top I would imagine Wrexham would be very close to being top of the table.

“It is pretty obvious they will have a great opportunity next season. No doubt they will invest more money and look to strengthen again.”

Wrexham only just avoided relegation when the 2019-20 campaign came to a premature end because of the coronavirus pandemic while the Reds missed out on the play-offs following a final day draw at Dagenham the following season.

Pearson could see signs of progress before Wrexham challenged for automatic promotion this term.

“The season before was a big improvement on the one before that,” said Pearson. “I felt Wrexham were going in the right direction anyway and they have obviously carried it on, taken it further.

“I would be amazed if Wrexham weren’t too far away from that top spot and hopefully they can do it.

“I will definitely be rooting for them to go up.

“In an ideal world for me this season, both Wrexham and Grimsby would have gone up - one as champions and one as play-off winners - but unfortunately they ended up playing each other.”

Pearson’s Grimsby inflicted more play-off misery on Wrexham following an epic contest.

The lead changed hands four times while another ex-Reds centre-back, Luke Waterfall, headed home the winner with just a minute left in extra time.

“Wrexham obviously had the one against Dover so they have been involved in a couple like that this season,” said Pearson.

“It was two sides that were going hell for leather with each other and the emotions of the day - one minute you are up, one minute you are down - nobody really knew where they were going to be until the final whistle went.

“Personally, I was pleased to be on the right side of the result.”

Pearson was not expecting so many goals as both teams were a threat from set-pieces but also poor defensively.

“It was crazy,” added Pearson, who came on as a substitute in extra-time.

“People asked me what I reckoned and before it I said generally we have not scored loads of goals but we have not conceded many either, so I was thinking another tight game.

“Obviously Wrexham have scored a lot of goals but I definitely couldn’t really see it being as high scoring as that!

“It was just mental.

“Set plays were huge; both teams were a threat all day with long throws and corners, and it made for a great spectacle from a neutral’s point of view and with us getting the victory, it made it an enjoyable one from our point of view.”