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AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley pleased with September start and has a host of friendlies already lined up




After the Football Association’s phased return for their sport was released on Saturday, Mark Morsley and his AFC Sudbury staff wasted little time in putting together a seven-game pre-season schedule.

Full contact training in groups of up to 30 was permitted to start with immediate effect, while pre-season friendlies will be able to be played from August 1.

Leagues from Step 1-7, meanwhile, will get going at scheduled points in September, subject to where the country is in relation to its recovery from the pandemic.

AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Lewis O'Malley heads the ball clearPicture: Clive Pearson (38966371)
AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Lewis O'Malley heads the ball clearPicture: Clive Pearson (38966371)

The guidelines include a host of restrictions and safety measures, including the avoidance of goal celebrations, goalkeepers being encouraged to disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks and all players showering at home where possible.

The ‘new normal’ will take some getting used to for all concerned. But for AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley, having some dates to work towards was the main thing.

“It is great news,” he said. “When the announcement came out my phone didn’t stop and I could have organised about 25 friendlies in about two hours!

AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Lewis O'Malley puts Tom Dettmar under pressure Picture: Clive Pearson (38966362)
AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Lewis O'Malley puts Tom Dettmar under pressure Picture: Clive Pearson (38966362)

“We did get things sorted out very quickly though and there is a nice spread of friends of the club and some decent friendlies there: three Step 3, one Step 4 and three Step 5.”

The Yellows will get back to finding their match sharpness from Wednesday, August 5 when hosting lower-league FC Clacton (7.45pm) before Mildenhall Town visit on the Saturday (3pm).

Saturday, August 15 sees them host higher-league Cheshunt (3pm) with the following Saturday seeing lower-league Newmarket Town, managed by former player and caretaker boss Michael Shinn on August 22 (3pm).

Saturday, August 29 will see equivalent-level Barking visit (3pm) before higher-league Brightlingsea Regent on Monday, August 31’s bank holiday (3pm).

AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Joe Wright avoids a tackle from Kane MundayPicture: Clive Pearson (38966353)
AFC Sudbury returned to full contact training on Monday - Joe Wright avoids a tackle from Kane MundayPicture: Clive Pearson (38966353)

Their last friendly is the only away fixture, at Morsley’s old club, higher-league Needham Market, on Saturday, September 5 (3pm).

Although their Isthmian League North Division 2020/21 campaign is not due to start till September 19 , the first competitive match is set forSeptember 12, in the FA Cup preliminary round.

“I never really like not starting with a league game, if I’m honest,” said Morsley. “But the FA Cup is a money spinner and it will be the same for the other team.”

The Thurlow Nunn League for Hadleigh United, Long Melford, Cornard United, Halstead Town and AFC Sudbury Reserves is due to start on September 5.

* AFC Gold week 11: £100 (132) D Smith, Braintree Rd, Wethersfield; £10 (244) K Fairbrother, Bradford Drive, Colchester; £10 (249) Mrs K Ford, Queens Rd, Sudbury.


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