Dean Keates is Walsall's new manager. Pic: Walsall FC.

Dragons Manager Dean Heads Home To West Midlands

Manager Dean Keates has left Vanarama National League Wrexham.

Walsall-born Keates has agreed to take over his home town team, who are without a match this weekend.

Coaches Andy Davies and Carl Darlington take charge of Wrexham for their crunch clash at Woking on Saturday (3pm).

“I’m delighted to come back,” said Keates at a Walsall press conference.

“I’m from the area. I was on the terraces at Fellows Park and then at the Banks Stadium – I’m a fan of the club and it feels good to be back.

“I’m still learning my trade but everyone is learning their trade, no matter their age.

“This opportunity came up for me and it wasn’t something I could let pass by. It’s my home town and that’s a big thing for me.”

Keates, 39, was first choice for League One Walsall to replace the sacked Jon Whitney.

His switch from Wrexham to the West Midlands was completed after the Saddlers agreed a compensation package with Wrexham.

Keates was appointed manager of The Dragons in October 2016 and has transformed their fortunes.

He led them clear of relegation trouble last season and leaves the Racecourse with the Dragons in fourth place.

Walsall chief executive Stefan Gamble: “Dean was our number one target and we are delighted to welcome him back to the Banks’s Stadium,” he said.

“We received a number of impressive and credible applications, but Dean was always at the forefront of our minds.

“It goes without saying that Dean made a huge impact in his two spells here as a player but this was not a decision based on emotion – we feel he is the best man to take the club forward.

“Dean’s work at Wrexham has been extremely impressive and their results this season underline his credentials as a manager. We would like to thank Wrexham for their professionalism throughout this process.”

A Wrexham AFC statement said: “We want to place on record our appreciation to Dean for his time here as a player, captain and as first team manager.

“Walsall FC approached us and triggered the release clause in Dean’s contract in full. Therefore we were obliged to allow Dean the opportunity to speak to the club that he supports.

“We are in a strong position and our focus remains on achieving promotion to the Football League this season.

“There are just nine games of the season to go and now more than ever, we need the support of each and every fan of Wrexham AFC to rally around our interim management team of Andy Davies and Carl Darlington, the remainder of the staff and the playing squad.

“We are fully focused on achieving three points at Woking on Saturday.

“While we have already begun the search to replace Dean and complete our management team and intend to make an appointment as quickly as possible.”

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