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Sheppey United head coach Marcel Nimani says lockdown has not come at a good time for the side

The month-long November lockdown is badly timed for a Sheppey United team who are working their way through the gears.

The Ites are the only unbeaten side in the Southern Counties East Premier Division and they are through to the second round of the FA Vase, beating Sutton Athletic 2-0 on Saturday.

Sheppey's Richie Hamill - who scored in the FA Vase at Sutton Athletic last weekend - in action earlier this season. Picture: Paul Owen Richards (42994579)
Sheppey's Richie Hamill - who scored in the FA Vase at Sutton Athletic last weekend - in action earlier this season. Picture: Paul Owen Richards (42994579)

All football below the National League have been put on hold now that new national Covid-19 measures have come into play. Sheppey were due to visit third-placed Tunbridge Wells on Saturday.

“For us, this has come at the wrong time,” said head coach Marcel Nimani.

“We feel like we have been grinding out results in third gear and as the season has been moving on we have moved up a gear and performances are getting better.

“We are picking up on errors that we’ve made and we’ve been getting better and better. We feel we are just building up to peak.

“I feel we have had a fantastic start, but I reinforce the word it is just a start.

“We have only played nine league games. We may have played the least games than anyone in the league but we have played eight games in the FA Cup and FA Vase.”

The FA confirmed on Tuesday that all non-elite league football and grassroots activity would have to stop, until at least December 2.

It will mean a congested period when they do return but Nimani feels that despite their best preparations, the players may still need time to get back up to speed, before the action can resume.

Nimani said: “We don’t want to be giving other teams an advantage, so myself and the coaching staff have already begun the planning.

“If that is the case we are looking to intervene through Zoom calls and using the GPS vests as a way of monitoring the players’ fitness.

“We expect our players to keep fit. We will have virtual training like we did in the first lockdown, so at least we have the experience for that now.

“My personal perspective is that if we do go into lockdown for four weeks, irrelevant of the fact that we can keep them virtually monitored and kept them fit.

“I feel it would be unsafe for the league to start straight away, after four weeks off to then expect players of all ages to then compete at such high intensity immediately. You are putting the players in jeopardy.

“I think a minimum two to three weeks should be given to the players and clubs to adjust the fitness, but if it turns out not to be the case I am confident that the programme we have created will keep the players as fit as we possibly can.”

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