SHAWBURY United are hoping to start playing friendlies next month in a bid to ensure they are ready for whenever competitive football kicks off again.

Declan Allen’s West Midlands Premier Division outfit have already announced their first pre-season fixture will be against Midland League side Stourport Swifts.

No date has been confirmed for the game but Allen says the groundwork has already been laid for other friendlies.

Government guidelines currently allow grassroots clubs to train in groups of no more than six people as coronavirus lockdown restrictions continue to be eased gradually.

“We’ve had pre-season planned for a while,” said Allen. “We’ve been planning as if the season is going to start on time so you could say we are ahead in terms of preparation.

“With the Government guidelines allowing us to train in small groups, we’ve begun that process of getting back to normality.

“We have set dates for pre-season games but we haven’t announced them because the dates can slide.

“But it’s a good thing for the club and for the players – it’s nice to have something to aim towards.

“And if we get updated guidance that we can start training with 10-15 players together, we will be ready for it.”

Allen has appointed a new first-team coach in James Hayes, who was previously an academy coach at Football League side Shrewsbury Town.

Allen added: “We had about 55 applicants with a range of experience and CVs but James is someone I’ve known for a number of years.

“He’s fully on board with where we want to go as a club and he’s someone who has high standards and who I can really trust.”

Shawbury’s landlords Ludlow FC, meanwhile, are also back in training despite not knowing when, or in what league, they will begin next season.

The West Midlands League Division Two outfit are expected to move across to the set-to-be-revamped Shropshire League but the uncertainty hanging over the sport is keeping them in limbo.

“We’ve been doing a bit of training,” said boss Chris Waldron. “Nothing too strenuous, because of keeping in line with social distancing.

“But we want to be ready just in case anything happens in the next couple of months.”

Ludlow are not planning any friendlies yet, however, with Waldron adding: “Until there’s some sort of date set for the new season to start, I just don’t see the point of organising anything.

“We won’t be making any arrangements along those lines and, to be honest, I can’t see our season starting until September or October.

“I don’t think we’ll see any grassroots games until the Premier League starts its new season.

“But we are all missing it badly now – we want to get back to doing the thing we love and we are itching to get going."