Mark Bartley: 'Marlow are keen to ride out current COVID situation'

Mark Bartley expects Marlow’s home game with Chalfont St Peter to go ahead as scheduled on Monday and believes there’s a willingness among football managers and players to ride out the current COVID situation and complete the season.

The past two seasons have come to a premature conclusion, with lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 safety protocols making it impossible for clubs outside of the professional game to continue playing matches.

Bartley doesn’t believe that will be the case this season and, although rising cases of the Omicron variant have caused the postponement of their past two matches – at South Park on Saturday and home to Bedfont Sports on Tuesday – Bartley is confident the fixture list will look a little fuller in the coming weeks.

He also believes most of his squad have developed antibodies and a level of immunity to the virus, having either contracted it in the past or taken up the vaccines.

“We haven’t played recently but we will play on the 27th,” he said. “We have got Chalfont St Peter and I think Aaron Steadman over there is of a similar view to me.

“Yes, we want to make sure everyone is safe, but I feel we need to get games on. A lot of our squad have the antibodies to deal with the virus whether that be through having had it previously or being vaccinated. We’ve not been reporting cases like some of the other teams in our league.

“I feel this Omicron variant has been a little bit more concentrated to the London area so a few of those teams situated there have been impacted more so than the rest of us. So, I fully expect to play on the 27th and I think what will happen is there will be a lot of games that will be on from that point moving forward.

“I just think there is a willingness from the managers to play and from the players to play. So, no I don’t think there will be a circuit break. You will probably find that the Boxing Day games might be slightly impacted, but I think from New Year’s Day onwards you’ll find that the fixture list looks a bit fuller again.”

Marlow currently sit sixth in the Isthmian League South Central Division, just outside of the play-offs, however, they have matches in hand on the sides above them and Bartley is hopeful a consistent run of form between now and the end of the season will be good enough for them to break the top five.

“We are a little bit frustrated as a team because we’ve played 13 games and we have three or four games in hand,” he said.

“We haven’t had that many games called off because of the weather or COVID, so it’s a bit unfortunate that we’ve been caught in a situation where the fixture list seems to have got us behind games.

“On a positive, it has given some of the players we’ve got, like Curtis Chapple, who are carrying injuries to come back to full fitness.

“We are training on Thursday with all expectations to play on the 27th.”

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