SHAUN PEARSON expects the race for automatic promotion to be open this season and he hopes Wrexham can be the team to emerge from the pack and win the National League title.

Notts County, relegated from the Football League last term, are bookmakers' favourites to finish top and are closely followed by Chesterfield, AFC Fylde and Wrexham, with little difference in the betting odds.

The teams next on the list aren't far behind, backing up Pearson's theory that it promises to be a competitive battle for the title with a number of contenders.

And the fact that no-one is set to rival the spending power of Salford, who were promoted last season, Reds captain Pearson feels it is a good chance to follow suit and join the Ammies in the Football League.

"I had a look at the betting and think it is such an open market which says a lot about the league this year," said Pearson.

"The promising thing is it is there for anybody to go and take a hold of it.

"It is a great opportunity for somebody to take advantage of the fact that there is not necessarily a Salford that is going to spend millions.

"There are teams with good budgets but there is nobody with a stupid budget where you are struggling to compete with that sort of money.

"I know Salford didn't win it last year but you knew realistically that if you finished above them, you were going to be very close.

"Hopefully we can be the team that takes advantage of that and be the team that comes out on top of such an open league."

Wrexham, beaten by Eastleigh at The Racecourse in May's play-off eliminator, are spending a 12th season in non-league.

The Spitfires set-back was a rare home loss and Pearson is looking for the same again this season, but the centre-back wants the Reds to pick up more points on their travels and score more goals.

"It's a completely new season and quite a few new additions," said Pearson. "We will try and improve on last season, that is the target.

"If we improve we know that means we will go close and we do hope to be challenging right at the top end like we did last year for such a long time.

"At home we were very good. We only lost a couple of games all season before the play-off game.

"We scored plenty of goals at home so if we can replicate that and pick up a few more points away from home, score a few more goals away from home, that is where we can improve.

"Hopefully that will be the case and we pick up those extra few points that we need to be that team who finishes on top."

Wrexham secured a play-off spot for the first time in six years and eventually finished fourth, five points behind champions Leyton Orient.

Although they were top in March and eventually saw the promotion dream end in the play-offs, Pearson considers it an achievement that Wrexham were in the reckoning given the fact there were three different managers in The Racecourse hotseat throughout the campaign.

But Pearson hopes Hughes being at the helm next April when the 2019-20 season comes to a close means Wrexham could have something to celebrate.

"I think as a group we did well," said Pearson.

"We did well to deal with the different circumstances that were thrown at us last season.

"It will be nice this season if we can have a smoother season in that sense and if that is the case, hopefully that means we are doing well and up the top end.

"In an ideal world we will get through the season with the same manager and be right at the top end of the table."

Although beaten by teams from a higher level in pre-season, Wrexham have produced some impressive performances.

But while he welcomes those displays, Pearson says what happens from Saturday onwards is all that counts and he hopes the Reds hit the ground running like they did under Sam Ricketts 12 months ago.

"From a results point of view, it really doesn't matter," said Pearson.

"Last pre-season was very up-and-down but the work was being done in terms of ironing things out and we started the season flying.

"We will be hoping that is the same this year in terms of our start in the league.

"We feel like we have had a good pre-season, you want to have good performances if you can and they have been pretty good.

"Things seem to be heading in the right direction. You never really know until you get into the first few games but it is looking positive."