IT’S a case of start as you mean to go on as far as Arthur Okonkwo is concerned after returning for pre-season training with Wrexham yesterday.

The goalkeeper, who spent the majority of the 2023-24 campaign on loan at The Racecourse from Arsenal, has re-joined the Reds on a three-year contract following his release by the Premier League giants.

Phil Parkinson was keen to keep Okonkwo after he helped Wrexham finish runners-up in League Two, securing a second promotion in a row for the first time in the club’s history, and the 22-year-old is on board for the Reds’ first season in League One since 2004-05.

Okonkwo is under no illusion that it will be much more tougher in the third tier but the stopper says preparations in pre-season will be key for when the action gets under way with an opening day home game against Wycombe Wanderers on August 10.

“It all starts from pre-season,” said Okonkwo, who made 40 appearances in all competitions last term and kept 16 clean sheets,

“The team will come together again and starting from day one, we need to get ready to be in League One to compete because it is going to be really difficult.

“There are some great teams in this league and it is not going to be easy at all.

“But I am sure with the team we have and with the gaffer, we will be ready to compete.”

Okonkwo became Parkinson’s first new addition of the summer, re-joining Wrexham despite attracting interest from other clubs following a string of excellent performances that earned him a place in the League Two Team of the Season along with Reds’ team-mate Elliot Lee.

Mark Howard, who has agreed a new deal, and youngsters Liam McNicholas and Liam Hall are the other goalkeepers available to Parkinson going into the 2024-25 season.

Although he is expected to be first-choice between the posts once again, Okonkwo is not taking his place in the side for granted.

“In the goalkeeper position, you can be in the squad and then out of the squad,” he added.

“I have to compete every single week, not only for myself but for the team as well.

“When you want to win, it can be very draining but you have to be very consistent and we will definitely need a goalkeeper who is consistent next season in League One.

“Whether that is me or someone else, I always say that it is all about the team.
“As long as everyone has the same mentality of winning, that is the most important thing.”