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Isthmian League side Sevenoaks Town will return to training this week

Sevenoaks manager Micky Collins has praised the club for the safety measures put in place ahead of their first training session in nearly four months, writes Joe Harbert.

Both relaxed social distancing measures and the introduction of 'support bubbles' means Town are due to take part in a smaller than usual session today (Wednesday).

Sevenoaks Town manager Micky Collins
Sevenoaks Town manager Micky Collins

However, former Erith & Belvedere boss Collins, whose side are yet to announce a definitive squad list for the upcoming season, admits he is unsure of whether such events will continue in the weeks ahead.

"There have been great safety measures put in place here and it's been an eye opener as to what we have to do and can't do, and we're ready to test it with a little session with some of the first-team," he said.

"We've invested in a temperature scanner and other high-tech things to ensure our ground is absolutely in tip-top condition for when we do come back.

"But we'll see whether it's a viable situation to keep training again afterwards, or whether we're just flogging a dead horse.

"99% of the squad have stayed together though for this season, and the boys feel like they've got unfinished business.

"We've also spoke to two or three who are willing to come in, but we're not committing ourselves at the moment with anything, even though we're very solid financially.

"I'm not going to dive in and sign 20 players because it's not fair to tie them down when they could have other opportunities at a later date, so that's why we've been quite quiet, patient and kept our powder dry.

"I've been doing this a long time and situations like this are just unprecedented, so it's still a case of safety first for everyone."

Despite new measures giving grassroots players the ability to now train in groups of six, the Sevenoaks boss acknowledges that fans expecting to see football at Mill Lane again soon remains slim at best.

However, Collins, who in April celebrated six years in charge of the Isthmian South East outfit, believes a stronger season is on the cards for his side when football resumes.

He added: "We had a massive injury crisis last year and I've never known it so big in all the years I've managed.

"It was a stop-start year and one of those seasons where we just couldn't get any momentum, so hopefully this year we'll be blessed with a bit more luck.

"But I don't see a September start myself having spoken to people in the National League and knowing what restrictions they're going to have, so we're never going to be able to fulfil that at Step 4.

"We're not all going to be able to afford to test our players every 48 hours and survive with only 25% of crowds, so until social distancing is totally relaxed, I don't see how you're going to get 16 guys and a management team in the changing room with it being safe.

"So I think it's going to be a slow-burner and the Isthmian League have already been quite upfront about it and said to clubs that until they can generate revenue themselves, it won't start.

"That does worry me for other non-league clubs who, once the furlough system disappears, have to pay players under contract again, and that's going to create some issues that show why everyone is not out of the woods, yet."

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