ANDY Welsh insists Bury AFC will be ready to return to action and there will be no excuses.

The phoenix club are looking to hit the ground running when the North West Counties League is scheduled to resume on December 19.

AFC have arranged a friendly with ‘landlords’ Radcliffe for next Tuesday, December 15, having already trained with Walshaw Sports this week.

Welsh’s side have not played since beating Garstang 5-1 away on October 28 and will host the same opposition a week on Saturday with the league set to review their return date on Wednesday, December 16.

“There will be no excuses, we will be ready to play whenever we get the green light to return” said Welsh. “We can’t wait to get out there and start playing football again.

“To be honest, I don’t even know how many games we have missed but we have just missed playing.

“It has been frustrating and you get a bit fed up because all you want to do is play football.”

With a total of 40 teams in tier three ordered to play behind closed doors – which was not sustainable for clubs – the NWCFL opted to suspend play until December 19.

The government will review the tier system on Wednesday which will prompt the league’s decision.

“It’s not ideal because we don’t know for certain when we will return to action,” added Welsh. “But every club is in the same boat so we can’t use that as an excuse.”

Welsh said he was delighted to get his players back training again and praised them for keeping their fitness levels up during the second lockdown.

“I can’t praise the players highly enough, they have stuck to their fitness plans and have come back looking good and in shape,” he said.

“That makes it so much easier as coaches.

 “There is only so much you can do via Zoom meetings and there is only so much training players can do on their own.

“So to see them all at that first training session was great and we have been making up for lost time, training on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”

AFC invited fellow Bury side Walshaw Sports, who play in the Manchester Football League, to train and play some training games.

“We are grateful to Walshaw coming down and I think they were grateful too,” said Welsh.

“It’s not the same as the real thing of playing competitive matches but it was something a little bit different to just he regular training.”

Bury AFC have played just five times in their inaugural season and currently sit in second place in First Division North. An updated fixture list released by the league sees AFC playing eight times in January – but Welsh insists that will not be a problem.

“I would rather be playing every Saturday and Tuesday rather than not playing at all,” he said.

“We train every Tuesday anyway so playing instead is not a problem.

“We don’t know what is going to happen going forward, you can’t rule out another lockdown and the league being suspended again but that is something we will have to deal with when and if it happens.

“All I know is that we want the league to continue and we will squeeze games in any way we can to make that happen.”

With the league suspended, Welsh – who also runs a football academy that also had to temporarily close during lockdown – has used his free time to do some radio commentary.

“I have loved it,” said Welsh, who was summariser for BBC Manchester for former club Stockport County’s FA Cup ties against Rochdale and Yeovil. “I would much rather be on the touchline managing a team but it was very interesting.

“I love to analyse the game and getting the chance to co-commentate was a great experience.”