Notts County Manager Neal Ardley is ‘delighted’ and ‘prepared’ following the National League’s decision to continue through with the Play Offs after a vote by clubs received an overwhelming majority towards drawing a close to the season with a fit and proper fair ending.
Ardley stated “We’ve gone from early on in the lockdown to thinking we’ll get to play in the playoffs to a four week period thinking the chance has gone away, so to get further down the line and to now have that opportunity to play, we can’t ask for any more”.
Ahead of the National League’s vote the Magpies boss ensured his players and back room staff were ready for any outcome as they got together a day early preparing to set up in the hope that they would get the decision of approval to continue the campaign.
Ardley said “Wednesday we came in and set up for players and staff to be tested on Thursday, yesterday our players came in after testing and collected their boots and kit etc with a view (pending the results of testing on Friday) to getting back to training on Monday”
Ahead of training Ardley stated “It’s hard because of regulation the first week is going to be small groups and there’s only so much you can do fitness wise, but by week two onwards we’re hoping to ramp that up”.
Notts are likely to have four weeks for preparation prior to facing either Yeovil Town or Barnet who will play off against each other before hand to see who takes on the Magpies in the semi-final with Ardley stating “usually players have six weeks off, a six week pre-season and we build them back up to fitness with six or seven pre-season friendlies. Now all of a sudden we’ve had 12 weeks off and four weeks with no pre-season friendlies as there’s nobody around to play, so if the players come back to training out of shape it’s going to be tough. If we can get to July 18th (ahead of the playoffs) and we’ve limited injuries and got them fit, we’ll be very happy”.
For Ardley and his Coaching team, focus now is solely on getting his players fit and prepared for a playoff semi-final fixture in four weeks’ time. Next week will be small groups of five training on the resurfaced Meadow Lane pitch whilst the week after will be more intense as the days draw closer to facing either Barnet or Yeovil. For Notts players and for Ardley it’s good be back and with an end goal in sight, concentration can now be simplified towards one simple goal, in getting Notts back in the football league again, and where they belong.
*Main image @Official_NCFC Neal Ardley finally back working towards Notts promotion target again.