Mark Bartley: 'My focus is on making sure my players enjoy themselves'

James Clark (right) has left the Blues for Bracknell Town

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Marlow FC boss Mark Bartley has got to work preparing his players for a new season of football with training and ‘a handful of friendlies’ following the curtailment of last year’s campaign.

Taking into account the views of clubs and divisions at steps 3-6, it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May would not be a viable option.

According to the FA, this was due to considerations including financial implications, fixture scheduling issues, and various postponements.

Having been out of competitive action since an FA Trophy defeat (1-4) to Nuneaton Borough back in December, Bartley acknowledged it was inevitable the campaign would be brought to a premature end.

“It’s been frustrating, definitely, because you want to keep the momentum you’ve built and I felt we were in a good space with our side,” he said.

“It now needs a little bit of tweaking, and I’m mostly frustrated for the players because football is such a short career.

“To lose one and a half or two years of playing the sport, in total, is not great.

“Now, my focus has been getting the players back in and enjoying it again.

“The moment the lockdown restrictions were eased, we were able to get the players into training.

“We thought that was the best thing to do, and we’ve had them in a couple of times a week to get them moving with a view that a proper pre-season will start at the end of June as normal.

“What we didn’t want was for everyone to jump in low on fitness or sharpness levels so over the last couple of weeks, we’ve worked hard to blow away a few of those cobwebs.

“We’ve seen a good response from the players and they’re glad to be back.

“We have also started conversations with a few players regarding next season and what we’re going to do.

“The squad pretty much remains the same but we are going to lose James Clark who came in and scored a lot of goals for us last year.”

On Clark’s departure, Bartley added: “He had a few offers on the line, but in the end, he’s decided to go to Bracknell Town.

“Everyone at Marlow wishes him the best for the future.

“He came and did a good job for us in, albeit, what was a short and curtailed season.”

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