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Players' progression thwarted by pandemic, says Windsor FC boss Cooper

Mark Cooper says the disruption caused to the last two campaigns by COVID-19 has been a huge frustration for players, who simply want to progress their careers and are being denied that opportunity.

Last season’s Hellenic League campaign was declared null and void when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK, and it seems likely that a similar solution could be sought this season, with the country having been placed under national lockdown restrictions once again.

It means non league football outside of the National League is suspended until further notice, and Windsor’s players have simply been asked to keep themselves ‘ticking over’ in the hope they’ll be able to return to action later this year.

“The outlook for this season doesn’t look great,” said Cooper.

“We have to deal with what’s in front of us. We can only work within the framework we’ve been given. We can’t train with the boys without any real visibility of a return date. We are literally just asking them to tick over themselves.

“In the previous lockdown we were setting the boys challenges, getting them running on a running app, we had zoom workouts. We did that for six weeks then they played one game and the season was off again. To maintain that at the current time wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

“If the feeling is that things are improving, then we’d get back to planning for the season again, but, right now, it doesn’t feel like that.”

Cooper shares the frustrations of his players, but says he feels for the players more because they’re seeing a large chunk of their career being snatched away, and many will miss out on opportunities to play at a higher level because of that.

“I think you feel for the players,” he said. “Of course, I share their frustrations as a manager. But you’re not the one having to keep yourself in good physical shape and trying to maintain it through this period.

“There’s also a sense of frustration for the young lads who just want to play football and progress their careers.

“It’s a huge frustration for them, but everyone is suffering in different ways.

“We hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel now, and hopefully that positivity will remain because we can see there’s a chance to get back to (normality) it sooner rather than later. As coaches we're also always focused on the immediate. It gives us some time to reflect on the squad and where we need to improve.”

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