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Whitstable Town manager Lloyd Blackman unsure when Tom Carlton can make his debut after signing from Herne Bay

Lloyd Blackman is looking forward to seeing new signing Tom Carlton in action for Whitstable - whenever that may be.

Midfielder Carlton joined the Oystermen from neighbours Herne Bay last week but may have to wait a bit longer for his debut.

Whitstable boss Lloyd Blackman. Picture: Alan Langley (43381846)
Whitstable boss Lloyd Blackman. Picture: Alan Langley (43381846)

That’s because the provisional December 19 return date for Isthmian South East is up in the air in light of new Covid-19 restrictions which leave many clubs - including all those in Kent - in Tier 3 and unable to welcome fans.

Clubs are set to vote on the way forward following a meeting on Tuesday night and Town boss Blackman expects to learn more by the end of the week.

Whenever they do get back on the pitch, Carlton will be a valuable asset.

“He’s a player I’ve admired for a long time,” said Blackman.

“I tried to sign him when he originally left Herne Bay for Hythe.

“He’s a fantastic player, technically very good.

“It’s a positive move for the club. He’s an exciting young prospect who I feel we can help develop here.

“I’m delighted to have him on board although when we see his debut is another question.”

Carlton has taken on Whitstable’s fitness regime as they try to keep the players in good shape, ready for a return to action.

Blackman added: “Everyone’s dealing with it in their own way but we’ve set fitness tasks and the players have to send over the relevant information via our WhatsApp group.

“We’re just trying to make sure the players are accountable for when they do return because the last thing we want is for them to come back and not be in a position to do themselves justice.

“Speaking to Tom, he was keen to join in with that and he’s one of the boys sending over information on the fitness work they’ve been doing.

“I feel for these players who are keeping themselves ticking over without knowing when they will play.

“Not only from trying to keep physically fit but also the mental side as well, because it’s been challenging where it’s stop-start and you don’t know what’s happening.”

All clubs were represented in a Zoom meeting with the Isthmian League as they plot the way forward.

Blackman, speaking on Wednesday afternoon, said: “Every club had a chance to air their opinions and concerns.

“It’s difficult for clubs in Tier 3 because we don’t get any gate money or secondary income from bar takings.

“That could change if we moved into Tier 2 or we receive a government grant, but we’re still waiting for news on that.

“We simply can’t operate as a club and compete against others that are able to attract fans.

“It’s all very messy. Hopefully we learn more in the next 48 hours.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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