Prestwich Heys manager Matt Barnes has been busy preparing for next season, putting things in place for when the green light is given for football at non-league level to resume.

The announcement that the FA are meeting representatives of leagues at Step 5 and 6 about possible season scenarios has raised hopes that at least a framework to enable that to happen may emerge soon.

It was March 14 when Heys last saw action, winning 5-3 at Cleator Moor Celtic. However, then came the lockdown, capping a strange season for Barnes who started it as manager of Barnoldswick before joining Heys as joint manager with Jon Lyons in November.

Within three weeks he found himself in the hotseat himself following Lyons’ resignation. Barnes then had to wait three weeks for a game due to bad weather, the season curtailment coming not long after.

“It was a very strange season and certainly one I didn't and could never have predicted,” said the Heys boss.

“I feel positive overall though about the season, especially from the turn of the year. We have many things which we have identified as wanting to improve on whilst there are a lot of positives to take forward into the new campaign.”

Once it was confirmed the 2019-20 season would not be completed the Heys boss was quick to start getting things in place, firstly announcing a partnership with Beechfield United, helping the Manchester League Premier Division side while also giving Heys’ players who need game-time somewhere to play.

It has also been announced the club will have a youth team playing in the North West Youth Alliance.

Although the current first team squad have not been seen at Adie Moran Park for three months now, Barnes has been eager to ensure they retain their team bond.

“We are in regular contact via a WhatsApp group and have regular phone calls,” the boss said.

“We also issued training plans to the players. However, aware that everyone has differing circumstances in these testing times we did not pressure them to do them it was purely up to them.

“We have also been having zoom workouts with the lads which Matt Potts has led. It’s fair to say that the lads are all really keen to get back into it as soon as possible.”

When that will be is difficult to say at present. Amidst the uncertainty, Barnes has tried to work on a business-as-usual basis to ensure all is in place once the go-ahead is given to resume.

“I have planned for next season as I normally would,” he said.

“The only difference has been that I have had to use zoom calls and the phone to speak to our players to discuss plans for the new season when that does get the go ahead. “

Barnes has similarly been speaking to prospective new signings as he plans an assault at the top of the North West Counties First Division North next season.

Having announced that Greg Wills, Oliver Hatfield-Banton and Rees Welsh have been released, the Heys boss revealed there will be some new faces on show when football returns.

”We definitely will be bringing in some new players, not to many though as we are pleased with what we already have,” Barnes said.

“Although, expect some who I think are very good signings, lads I identified from last season. I think Heys fans will be very pleased with them.

“The aim next season is to win the league. I would challenge any manager who would say that isn't the aim, but I will say in terms of my personal ambitions if we don't manage to win the league then we have to win promotion.

“The squad we have are hungry and have the desire and ability to do anything possible to achieve that.”