Lancaster City’s first pre-season friendly pits them against Longridge Town this weekend

Mark Fell says Lancaster’s pre-season preparations are gathering pace even though an element of uncertainty remains about the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
Lancaster City manager Mark FellLancaster City manager Mark Fell
Lancaster City manager Mark Fell

The Dolly Blues returned to training on July 25 and have their first friendly game at Longridge Town on Saturday, a fixture which will be played behind closed doors.

As things stand, City’s NPL season is due to start on September 19, quickly followed by games in the FA Cup and FA Trophy.

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However, there is no fixture list yet, it might be October before fans are back in the ground and local lockdowns to control spikes of Covid-19 could be in the background.

Those are factors which City manager Fell will have to contend with as he gets his squad in shape over the next few weeks.

Fell said: “We’ve had five sessions now and it’s been good to have the lads back.

“We always wanted a seven-week pre-season but jumped the gun a little bit and ended up with an eight-week one.

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“So part-way through we will give the lads a weekend off which will be nice for them as they won’t get another one for nine months. The lads have come back well, 90% of them look in really good condition.

“There’s three or four who we need to bring up to speed but they will be fine.

“When lads come back in good nick you can spend less time flogging them on the fitness side and more time on our shape and structure.

“The lads are champing at the bit to be honest, they’ve not played since March and just want some football.

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“There is still uncertainty about the season, we don’t have the fixtures yet which means we can’t put a scouting process in place.

“Why not just use last season’s schedule? It is the same teams. If we do start on September 19, it will be quite intense to start with.

“We’ll have a league game on the 19th, the FA Cup on the 22nd and then the FA Trophy on the 26th.

“That is high pressure and there will be a lot of chairmen around the country squirming if they go out of the FA Cup and FA Trophy in the space of a few days because that would be a big financial hit.”

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The Dolly Blues have been training at Galgate FC since their return but are due to switch to Lancaster University, the base they used last season.

Said Fell: “It was great of Galgate to allow us to use their ground and we are very thankful.

“Now we are due to move back to the university which is opening again.

“We’ve got some risk assessment work to do but the next session is likely to be there.

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“We trained there last year, they reserve us a nice secluded pitch at the back and it’s a great facility.”

Fell has done a fair amount of recruiting for the new season but still has a couple of places in the City squad to fill.

Similar to most managers, he wants another striker and is prepared to wait for the right one to come along.

“We are probably two players short as things stand and we’re in the market,” said Fell.

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“We’ve got Tom Kilifin and Matty Blinkhorn up front but we’d like another who can do something different. It is hard finding the right players and sometimes agents make it difficult.

“We’ve talked to lads who have been released by Football League clubs but their agents are promising to get them another league club, which realistically won’t happen.

“It might be a case of us waiting for a bit of reality to set in and we can offer them a good place to play.”