ANDY MORRELL - the manager who came closest to planning Wrexham’s escape route from non-league football - can’t wait for the start of the new season.

As Wrexham boss, Morrell lost a Wembley play-off final to Newport County in 2013 and was denied the title by Fleetwood Town 12 months earlier despite ending the season with a massive 98 points.

Wrexham came close again last season but ended runners-up to Stockport County and suffered more painful play-off misery when Grimsby Town came to The Racecourse and won 5-4 in May’s epic semi-final.

It was one of three consecutive defeats to finish the season as Wrexham produced poor shows at Dagenham and Redbridge, in the FA Trophy final against Bromley and then the Grimsby play-off.

Morrell, who as a player celebrated the club’s last promotion scoring 39 goals in the 2002/03 season, watched on at the end of last season as the Reds’ dream once again faded.

“It was a sad end to a season that promised so much,” said Morrell, who will be at The Racecourse for the opening day clash with Eastleigh on Saturday as a BBC Radio Wales commentator.

“I just can’t wait for this season to get underway and I’m hoping to watch as many games as I can.

“The BBC have been good to me and I really enjoyed the radio stuff last season. I also did a few BT Sport games - and I enjoy that too. In fact, I’ll be at the Woking Bank Holiday game.”

Morrell, who fell four goals short of a century in his 269 appearances for the Reds, knows Paul Mullin, Ollie Palmer - and hopefully Elliot Lee - will score plenty this season but it’s the return of Aaron Hayden from injury that will benefit Phil Parkinson’s team most.

“They missed Hayden so much in the run-in,” added Morrell. “He’s a colossus in both boxes and him not playing was one of the key factors in Wrexham falling short in the last three games.”

As for Mullin, how does one of Wrexham’s greatest ever goal-getters rate the current fans’ favourite?

“Paul Mullin is real quality,” said Morrell. “He scores all types of goals, his movement is good and he’s a very clever player.

“Bringing Ollie Palmer in certainly helped and he’ll be looking for another 25 goals plus this season.

“And if Palmer and Lee can get 15 each then that’s a good return from your three strikers.”

Wrexham are 6/4 favourites with the bookmakers to go one step further and win the National League title and Morrell thinks Phil Parkinson’s side are better equipped to do so after adding six players during the summer.

“They’re definitely starting in a better place than they did this time last year,” added Morrell.

“The pressure will still be on them - it always is at Wrexham and even more so because of what’s happened with the American owners buying the club.

“But in years gone by, it’s always been a new start with new players and manager coming in.

“Wrexham are in a position now where they don’t have to worry about their best players getting poached in the summer.

“Getting off to a good start is vital. They have to be right at it and if they do, you’d like to think they’ll be steam-rolling teams!”