New AFC Portchester boss Dave Carter eager to play April friendlies after lockdown restrictions are lifted

Dave Carter will waste no time before getting to work at AFC Portchester.

Sunday, 28th February 2021, 12:59 pm
New AFC Portchester manager Dave Carter. Picture: Vernon Nash

The Royals boss, who moved from Moneyfields to take on the role earlier this month, is planning on returning to training and playing friendlies in April with non-elite football given the green light to return from March 29.

Portchester were delivered the unsurprising news their current Wessex League Premier Division campaign had been curtailed following an FA announcement last Wednesday.

They were one of the 76 per cent of step 3-6 clubs that voted to null and void the campaign when canvassed by the governing body in January.

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Other options included restarting 2020/21 in August, and 125 clubs - 36 at steps 3-4 and 89 at steps 5-6 - voted for that. But 479 voted to null and void.

An August restart wouldn’t have suited Carter - his new club trailed Wessex Premier leaders Hamworthy United by 18 points when the season was paused, having played two games fewer. They were also 14 points behind Lymington, having played the same amount of matches.

Now everyone will start level when the curtain is lifted on 2021/22.

And Carter is keen to start putting the building blocks in place for a promotion charge next term.

He said: 'It was fully expected from my point of view (curtailing of the season).

‘It gives me a chance at Portchester now to see the lads that are there and build my team to be challenging for promotion next year.

‘We’ll go back straight away (when restrictions ease from March 29).

'We’ll look to book some friendlies in as well over April and moving on.

‘It’ll be a long pre-season because everyone has missed football so much, including myself.

'We won’t train heavily over the summer, we’ll up the training during when the normal pre-season would be, but we’ll keep ticking over all the way through.

‘We’ll probably just start at once a week and one or two games a month.

'It’s just a case of playing it as you see it.'

There have been suggestions of regionalised supplementary cup competitions being set up across the country.

The Wessex League are due to talk with the Hampshire FA on Monday evening ‘to discuss how some form of football can be rescheduled during April and May.’

Carter would welcome such a competition but, even if it doesn't go ahead, he will still seek to ensure his squad get plenty of playing time prior to pre-season.

‘The Wessex League are possibly looking at playing some competition,' he added. ‘Some sort of cup competition or something like that, we’d more than welcome that.

‘It would give me a chance to look at the current squad and assess the players.

‘Vice-versa, it gives them a chance to look at me and go from there really.

'If the Wessex League don’t do that, we’ll probably put some friendlies together.

‘The good thing with being in the Southern League previously I’ve got some good contacts there, so I’m sure we can get some teams to come to Portchester or go away.'

US Portsmouth are also looking for a friendly ahead of resuming their FA Vase campaign at home to Christchurch in April.