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Manager Lloyd Blackman has re-signed many of last season's players at Whitstable Town and offers are on the table for others

Whitstable Town manager Lloyd Blackman has praised the efforts of everyone involved with the club in helping them withstand the coronavirus outbreak, writes Joe Harbert.

Although the Oystermen boss admits it’s been a testing period for the seaside outfit, the 36-year-old says they are now feeling upbeat ahead of an eventual return to action.

Whitstable Town manager Lloyd Blackman
Whitstable Town manager Lloyd Blackman

"We're managing to pull ourselves through it and everyone at the club deserves a pat on the back,” Blackman explained.

“It's been a different period compared to a normal June and July which is often a hive of activity, but we're making sure everything behind the scenes is sorted, organised and done properly.

"Everything from the ground, to the academy and the progress of the side is in place and now we're pretty much just waiting for dates to restart.

"It's still been a very testing time for us all, but there's a fantastic bunch of supporters that have helped raise money through our GoFundMe page, so it's been a real community-driven effort alongside all the staff, and that's made sure we're going to see it out the other side.”

The community fundraiser, set up by supporter Richard Tennant, has just recently surpassed the £5,000 target. Money has been put towards an improved irrigation system for the pitch and ground maintenance equipment for the senior and youth sections.

Just six points outside the top half of the table prior to lockdown, Town were on course to surpass their best ever league finish of eighth that they achieved in the formerly known Isthmian League South in 2015.

However, with the core of the squad set to remain at The Belmont Ground for at least another year, Blackman remains optimistic about the club making further progress in the future.

The former Ramsgate manager added: "I was at the club on Saturday and we re-signed a good group of players and the offer is on the table for a couple of others, so we're in a good place.

“We haven't sung from the treetops yet - we'll release more on the website soon and then we can assess things more as everything slowly begins to move forward, and then we can take steps on looking at players from outside.

"I've always been keen to keep continuity here so we can grow as a group together, and to be perfectly honest I was completely happy with the team I had last season.

"We were potentially in the play-offs shortly before lockdown, and we finished the season in our lowest position all season, so it probably wasn’t a fair reflection with the solid season we had.

“But of course you can never be satisfied with where you are - if you're standing still you're going backwards, so there's always the driving ambition to progress and the benefit here is that we have a young side.

"The academy has been in place for a few years now, and it also progressed into the National League U19 Alliance League in the last few days too.

"We also saw the introduction last year of the reserve side, so it has always been my philosophy to build within, and when we don't perhaps have the luxuries that some of the other sides do, youth and sustainability is key.”

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