08:00AM, Saturday 05 December 2020
After a six-week break from competitive football, Windsor boss Mark Cooper is desperate for his squad to get back to a bit of normality this week.
Cooper, who contracted COVID-19 prior to lockdown in November - leading to Windsor sitting out a couple games more than their rivals - can’t wait to get back on the training pitch and back inside the dugout.
The team’s lockdown training regime has been varied, with the coaches running one-to-one sessions with players and workouts over Zoom. The players have also been set personal running challenges, but nothing really replicates twice-weekly training sessions.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to it,” said Cooper. “We’ve done a number of different things during lockdown. We’ve still be doing three sessions a week but we’re very much looking forward to getting back to training this week and keen to get back to games and a bit of normality.”
The club has two friendlies coming up against Yateley at home this Saturday and Ascot United on Saturday, but they’ll return to competitive action against two of the league’s high-flyers, third placed Reading City and leaders Flackwell Heath. They then play fourth placed Bishop’s Cleeve after that.
“From the outset it’s going to be tough,” said Cooper. “Our first set of games are all against teams in the top half. We had been due to play teams towards the middle and bottom during lockdown but now we’ve got another tough run. We’ll have to wait for the slightly easier fixtures to come later in the season. But we’ve got to play everyone twice anyway, so we’ll be ready and raring to go against Reading City on December 12.”
Fans will be able to return to Stag Meadow to watch matches with the town having been placed in tier 2. However, restrictions have been tightened on the sale of food and beverages and that will hit all clubs at Windsor’s level in the pocket.
“Our situation with regards to supporters won’t have changed very much,” said Cooper. “We didn’t have any restrictions on supporters before and we will still be able to have up to 300 fans. The only difference is that the bar and clubhouse won’t be open due to the new restrictions and that will take its toll on clubs around the country. It’s something we’ll have to live with, but it will take something away from the match-day experience. Hopefully we can get back to normal in the new year.”
On his own experience with COVID, Cooper added: “I’m 100 per cent recovered. I was affected by it for two and a half weeks but only badly for three of those days.
“I’m just relieved it’s not long COVID and we’re all looking forward very much to getting back to it on Thursday and the games to come after that. We believe in the squad, we believe we should have had more points than we’ve got and we’ll look to turn that around as quickly as possible.”
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