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East Harling opt not to return to action until preparations for new season get under way

Despite being offered the chance to get some matches under their belt during April, May and June, East Harling have decided not to return until preparations for the 2021/22 season get under way.

Almost 70 clubs throughout the Anglian Combination Leagues have accepted an invitation from the Norfolk FA to play in a tournament which has a group phase before going into knockout football.

However, Harling will not be among the sides taking to the field when it all kicks off on April 3.

East Harling manager Stacey Lawrence. Picture: Mark Bullimore
East Harling manager Stacey Lawrence. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Manager Stacey Lawrence explained: “It was my decision. We’ve had more than three months off and then we’d get one session in if we’re lucky before this competition starts.

“The lads are playing senior football so I’m sure the majority of them have kept themselves fit, but it’s still not the same as training and playing matches.

“There has been a longer break than what we’d normally have going into pre-season and usually pre-season is when you do about a month of training before easing into friendlies – and in those games players tend to only play 50 or 60 minutes.

“I just feel like we’d be risking injuries and overall it’s not right for us, but I can understand why clubs and teams are wanting to do it.”

Harling will also forfeit their place in the Norfolk Senior Cup, which the governing hopes to get restarted next month.

They had been due to take on UEA in the second round – opposition that were cruelly denied a place in last season’s final by the pandemic.

“I’ve got no problem forfeiting that game,” added Lawrence.

“I actually feel sorry for UEA because they deserved the chance of having a crack at the final last year. If they play on I hope they do well in it this year.”

And looking ahead to next term, Lawrence will be recalling his players earlier than normal to get them up to speed after such a long absence.

He said: “We usually start in early July but I’ve told the lads its June 8 this year. We’ve got some friendlies and we’ll get some good training done before those games.”

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