BARNOLDSWICK Town manager Andy Clarkson is “extremely happy” to be back in training with his side, after several months away.

With lockdown restrictions eased and the resumption of outdoor sport on March 29, Town returned to training on Saturday.

Taking his side into a friendly against local rivals Ilkley Town on Tuesday evening, Clarkson was buoyant about the prospect of his side returning to the field.

“On a personal note, I’m extremely pleased to be back training and I’m pleased for the lads to be back”, said Clarkson.

“Being stuck in lockdown has been tough for everyone and hopefully returning to training will bring some normality back into people’s lives.

“We trained Saturday and the lads were in a great mood. The camp was happy, and we were all pleased to be back.”

After a prolonged period away from football, questions about the player’s fitness levels were bound to be asked but Clarkson was adamant that the players looked “sharp”.

“The players have kept fit throughout lockdown, so they looked sharp at training on Saturday.

“A lot of the players have been going on 5k runs. We haven’t given any specific training routines, but we did ask them to keep fit and stay trim for the eventual return of football and they all bought into it.”

Town were due to play their first friendly on Tuesday evening against Ilkley Town, only a couple of days after their only training session. However, Clarkson felt the short turnaround wouldn’t be a big problem.

“Thankfully, the lads know the formation we play and are familiar with it from last season.

“On Saturday, we were able to refresh their memories on the finer details, so it isn’t much of a problem.

“On the plus side, our lads are always raring to go and it’s a local derby, so we have no problems with the short turnaround.”

Town will also take part in a tournament held at Clitheroe Football Club, over the next three weekends.

The Barlicks will form a group of four sides, including Fleetwood Town U23’s.

Group two will consist of Clitheroe, Stockport County U23’s, Accrington Stanley U23’s and Perth Green.

On the prospects of entering the tournament, Clarkson said: “It will be a great test for the players playing against U23 full time footballers.

“These lads haven’t stopped have they. They haven’t stopped training so it will be tough.

“I believe Fleetwood Town U23’s played Clitheroe last pre-season and beat them comfortably. We’ve got to be able to compete.

“We are taking a squad of 16 and I’m going into this tournament to win every game.

“For me, there’s no such thing as a friendly. Everyone wants to win no matter what.”

Ahead of a return to Greenberfield Lane, Clarkson said: “The place is buzzing. The club has done a vast amount of improvement around the ground. It looks so professional.”