James Jennings: Wrexham have 'fire in their bellies' ahead of new National League campaign

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

JAMES JENNINGS insists the Wrexham squad have ‘fire in their belly’ in their bid to gain promotion to the Football League.

The left-back is one of the few players to have been retained this summer, following his loan spell with The Reds last season.

With an influx of 13 new players to the club in recent months, the 29-year-old has been one of the more recognisable faces in the Reds’ line-up during pre-season.

But Jennings has been impressed with the quality of manager Dean Keates’ summer signings, who are optimistic about the season ahead.

He said: “We’re counting the days down really and can’t wait for the season to start.

“We’ve got another 10 days or so of preparation to make sure we can work on our preparation in a few aspects of the game to make sure we’re physically and mentally ready for the start of the season.

“Everyone’s settled in here really well. Quite a few players know each other from previous clubs and have played against each other.

“There’s a good team spirit here too, which can win you quite a lot of points over the course of the season. So everyone’s got that fire in their belly and can’t wait to get started.

“As a squad we’re confident we can do well this season and it’s why everyone’s signed for this club.

“We’ve all got our individual targets and our team target, but we all want to be successful here otherwise no-one would have joined and the gaffer wouldn’t have signed us if we didn’t want that success.

“We’ve got a good feeling about it, but we’ll quietly go about our business in terms of not shouting about it and saying we’re going to get promoted.

“But we know what we want to do and as long as we put the work in off the pitch in training and we stick to our style of play then I’m confident we’ll be up there.”

Jennings was part of the Reds’ back four that secured the first clean sheet of a pre-season in their 2-0 victory at Altrincham Town in midweek.

It came after criticism of their defensive performance in the 1-0 loss at Nantwich Town days earlier, the Reds’ first defeat of the summer.

But Jennings believes that team cohesion is improving rapidly and hailed his burgeoning partnership with midfielder Marcus Kelly.

He added: “The clean sheet against Altrincham was essential really and a big improvement from the Nantwich game.

“It was a good reaction, which is what we wanted and what the gaffer asked us to do.

“I think it gives us that bit of confidence going into the next 10 days, which will be good preparation for when the season starts.

“Defensively it’s always important to get plenty of minutes together and work well not just as a back four but in different partnerships too.

“The left-back and left-sided centre half need to understand each other and it’s the same for the right side.

“So the more games you play, the more patterns of play and shape work we do in training I think people will naturally start to get to know each other’s game pretty well.

“I know Shaun (Pearson) and Manny (Smith) well and also Kevin Roberts after I played with him at Cambridge.”

“Marcus plays in that left sided role in midfield and I think our partnership is working well.

“It's the third club at which I’ve played with him, going back seven or eight years now and we know each others’ game pretty well.

“He's attacking but he’s a clever player who can also adapt to coming back a bit deeper and threading those balls through, which works well for me on the overlap and the style of play that the gaffer and the staff want us to play.”

The Reds’ final pre-season game comes at National League North side Chorley.

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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