Wrexham AFC manager Dean Keates expects a competitive division

Reporter:

Rich Williams

DEAN KEATES does not expect anyone to run away with the National League title this season.

Just four points separate the top nine teams after eight games, a clear indication of the competitive nature of the division.

Wrexham are up to third place, one point behind leaders Dagenham and Redbridge, after winning three successive matches and Keates admits that is the kind of consistency needed to sustain a promotion challenge over the course of the campaign.

“I think it is definitely going to be tight this year,” said Keates. “No matter what league you play in, the most consistent team wins the league.

“Whether it is free flowing football and it is unbelievable or you are a long ball team, the most consistent and most disciplined team finishes top of the league and the table doesn’t lie come the end of the season.

“That is what we want to be. We feel we are going in the right direction and heading where we want to be. We are in a decent place at the moment but there is still a lot more margin for it to be better.”

Keates believes the points tally needed to clinch the one automatic promotion place will be lower than previous seasons with all teams capable of beating each other.

“Look at the average over the last how many years, I think you are looking at 98 points plus in this division to win the league,” said Keates. “This season I think anyone can beat anyone and I don’t think the total is going to be as high as it has been the last few years.”

Wrexham will aim to make it four wins in a row on Saturday when they face bottom of the table Torquay United, who are still looking for their first victory this season, at Plainmoor.

Right-back James Hurst is set to keep his place after impressing since coming into the side.

A substitute for the opening five matches, Hurst has started the last three games and helped Wrexham keep three clean sheets as well as pick up a hat-trick of wins.

Hurst, brought in from Dover over the summer, is delighted to be part of a winning team.

“The manager didn’t pick me the first five games but that is up to him,” he said. “Then he chose me and we have won three. It takes 11 men to win a game, I’m happy I’m one of them.

“I seem to be doing alright so I have got to keep it going.”

Hurst has previously admitted midfield is his preferred position but he has no qualms about lining up in defence.

“I will do anything for the team,” said Hurst. “Wherever I am asked to play, I will play.

“The gaffer pulled me, I don’t know whether he was expressing some concerns but he has decided to put me in now which is a good thing for me.

“Three clean sheets in three games is really good and three wins as well which is brilliant.

“The strikers are doing well. The ball is going up to them and they are putting it in the net.

“We have got a bit of momentum and we have got to keep it going now.”

Hurst’s form since replacing Kevin Roberts in the side has not been lost on Keates who heaped praise on the player.

“Kevin picked up a little niggle before the Woking game and we couldn’t risk him,” added Keates.

“James has come into the team and done really well.

“The biggest compliment I can give James is he is keeping probably one of the best right-backs in the division out of the team.”

n There is one Welsh Premier League game tonight as Llandudno host Prestatyn with the clash streamed on Facebook.

Email:

rich.williams@nwn.co.uk

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