Dean Keates: Walsall appoint Wrexham boss as new manager

Wrexham won 25 of their 70 matches in Dean Keates' 15 months as manager
Wrexham won 25 of their 70 matches in Dean Keates' 15 months as manager

League One club Walsall have appointed Wrexham boss Dean Keates as their new manager to succeed Jon Whitney.

The 39-year-old ex-Saddlers midfielder will return to his home-town club, having had two separate spells there as a player, winning three promotions.

Whitney left Walsall on Monday with the club 15th in the third tier.

Former Wrexham captain Keates, who had been in charge at the Racecourse Ground for 15 months, leaves the Dragons fourth in the National League.

Keates' first game at the helm with Walsall will be Wednesday's rearranged home game with FA Cup quarter-finalists Wigan Athletic.

The Saddlers are six points clear of the relegation zone with nine games left.

"I'm delighted to come back," said Keates. "I'm from the area. I was on the terraces at Fellows Park and then at the Banks's. It's my hometown. That's a big thing for me. 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."

Keates' time in Wrexham

Keates was handed his first managerial role at Wrexham when he succeeded the sacked Gary Mills in October 2016.

After finishing 13th last season, he has lifted the Welsh club to within eight points of leaders Macclesfield.

His final game in charge was Sunday's 2-0 local derby win at home to Chester, their first victory in five matches.

His number two, Andy Davies, will take charge of the Dragons for Saturday's trip to Woking.

Dean Keates celebrates Walsall's promotion in 2001
Dean Keates was part of Walsall's promotion-winning side in the League One play-offs in 2001

Keates' playing days

Keates was a popular player in his days at Bescot. After joining from school, he scored 13 goals in 201 games in his first spell with the Saddlers.

He netted three when Ray Graydon's side won automatic promotion from League One in 1998-99, then five in the play-off winning season under Graydon two seasons later before leaving for Hull City in 2002.

Following a season at both Kidderminster Harriers and Lincoln City, he then scored 13 more in 53 appearances when he returned to Walsall in 2006.

After helping the Saddlers to promotion again under Richard Money, he then moved on to Peterborough United and Wycombe.

He finished his career with five years at Wrexham and a season at Welsh Premier League club Rhyl before returning to the Dragons as boss.