INTERVIEW | Dean Keates on injury problems and striker search

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Mon 05 Apr 2021

Wrexham AFC manager Dean Keates says no stone will be left unturned as the Dragons look to address the striker shortage, following injuries to Kwame Thomas and Jordan Ponticelli.

Top scorer Thomas, who has hit the back of the net nine times and tops our assists charts with seven too, has been ruled out for the season with a ruptured Achilles suffered in training on Thursday.

Then, to make matters worse, Jordan Ponticelli – replacing Thomas for his first start since January – limped off after 30 minutes of Friday’s loss at Notts County with a hamstring injury.

It leaves Wrexham with just one fit striker and, as we operate under the Welsh FA and are currently subject to the rules of the international transfer window, we are unable to sign anybody under contract.

“It is a difficult one,” manager Dean Keates admitted, “but we have options to explore and conversations have already been had about the possibility of bringing someone in.

“We know we are under different rules to the rest of the National League, so while Hartlepool have been able to loan Richie Bennett, for example, we don’t have that option available.

“But we can’t sit feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to make sure this Football Club is in the best place possible to achieve our goal this season – promotion to the Football League.

“We can only sign players who were out of contract, and de-registered from their previous club, before the January Transfer Window closed, which does limit our options.

“But we have already identified some players, and there will be others coming to us with their agents now they know our situation, and the backing we have.

“The biggest thing will be to only make a move if it benefits the Football Club. They will not have played for several months, so fitness will be an issue – we are only going to move if it is the right fit for this group.”

The situation is further complicated by the fact Wrexham currently have two attacking players out on loan, but neither can be recalled.

Bobby Grant joined Oldham Athletic on a season-long loan in the summer with no recall option, while Jake Bickerstaff joined Caernarfon Town on the final day of the winter transfer window.

Keates added: “We had to make a decision with Jake, and Max, as to what was best for their development going forward for the Football Club .

“We knew we were going to offer them new deals, which we are pleased they have accepted, and we wanted to ensure they got plenty of game time in men’s football ahead of next season.

“Cymru Premier rules means loans can only be from transfer window to transfer window – they can’t be short-term deals.

“We looked at the situation, and at the time Jake was our fifth-choice striker and we knew the Cymru Premier was looking at restarting in March.

“We couldn’t wait until March to loan Max and Jake out, because of the transfer window, so we had to make the decision then.”

Between Bickerstaff’s loan being finalised and the end of the transfer window, however, loanee striker Adi Yussuf received an offer to move elsewhere, which the club reluctantly agreed to after discussions with the striker.

The move actually paved the way for Thomas to return to the starting XI, and the Dragons had claimed 23 points from 12 games before his untimely injury.

Now, however, Keates admitted there are opportunities for players in the current first-team group to step and take their opportunity in the short-term.

He concluded: “We had the lads in for training on Sunday, and looked at a few things then and a few different systems.

“We have players in this group who can play different roles, and we know we can mix it up against Torquay.

“The most important thing is for the players to concentrate on themselves, and what they have to do – we’ve lost two games in 15 and have another massive fixture on Monday. Everyone at this Football Club knows what is expected of them.”

arrow-45degchevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up cross facebook instagramletter linked-in logo-social-youtubemap-marker minusplay-solidplay plus quote-mark skype tripadvisor twitter whatsapp youtube