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‘The players have returned in good shape’ – OK

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney spoke to the club website after the Bannsiders returned to training ahead of Irish Cup commitments…

After not being in action since a derby day win against Ballymena United back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the players were brought back to training last week ahead of the upcoming Irish Cup semi-final tie against the Sky Blues on July 27.

However despite not kicking a ball in anger in almost four months, Kearney was delighted with how hard his players worked during lockdown.

“The players have all looked after themselves and are in good shape,” he said.

“They have done a lot of individual training but not necessarily with a football and the 12/14 weeks off is more than what they would get during the off-season.

“With that in mind we have to be careful and not rush into things too quickly.

“We are all delighted to be back and we have nursed everyone through so far.”

With social distancing measures and other protocols put in place, Kearney shared his thoughts on the new norm.

“It is definitely a different normal but we have to follow government guidelines,” he added.

“There are a lot of hoops you have to sort out before you go onto the pitch as we all get our temperature checked and we have to fill out an online questionnaire.

“Then when you are on the pitch, you have to adjust your training programmes to make sure they adhere to Covid-19 safety measures.

“However, it is great to get the players back together again and there’s certainly been some friendly banter which everyone has missed.”

The Stripes boss admits it is disappointing that no fans will be permitted into the ground for the semi-final and provided an update on Curtis Allen’s eligibility for the fixture.

“It is just a pity that we won’t have our brilliant fans at Windsor Park because of the restrictions,” he concluded.

“It will be strange when you consider the numbers we would usually bring to a big game but then again it will be the same for all the teams involved.

“We’re not holding our breath about receiving good news on Curtis’ situation but we will do our due diligence and give it our best shot for Curtis sake.”

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