Phil Parkinson struck a defiant note as he reflected on a growing threat to the Vanarama National League starting as scheduled in just over a week’s time.

The Government’s decision to pause plans to allow spectators into stadiums has caused widespread uncertainty and concern after the National League initially declared they would not allow the season to begin with games behind closed doors.

The possibility of pressing ahead with opening fixtures a week on Saturday and allowing live streaming to provide clubs with some revenue was one of the options under discussion at a National League board meeting this afternoon, |Thursday.

As he awaited the outcome, Parkinson admitted he was as unsure as anyone about the prospects of facing Weymouth at The J.Davidson Stadium on October 3 but insisted his squad were ready, should the game go ahead.

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"That’s the big question, will it or won’t it?" he said after Tuesday night’s 2-0 pre-season friendly defeat at Alfreton.

"It’s really frustrating, because you feel you are getting really close, then it’s suddenly thrown into doubt.

"It’s probably been the most difficult pre-season I have known in my entire career, with all the problems we have faced over venues, organising things and getting Covid protocols in place.

"Everyone has put the work in and adopted a positive attitude to doing everything needed, but here we are still waiting to hear whether we can start as planned in just over a week’s time.

"All I can do is work with the players and make sure they are fully prepared. I’ve no concerns going into the season, even if we’ve had a few defeats.

"We could trounce everyone in these build-up games, then lose the opening league fixture, and no-one would remember pre-season. It’s about being ready for October 3 and the lads are there or thereabouts. We’ve got to be ready for Weymouth, and when it gets competitive, you will see this team turn up."

Former Alty midfielder Conor Branson was among the scorers for Alfreton, as the Robins failed to capitalise on their approach play and missed a golden opportunity to reduce the arrears late on when Max Clayton had a penalty well saved.

‘It was always going to happen that Conor would score against us from a set-piece,’ said Parkinson ruefully. ‘It’s about players getting the minutes they need, and they’ve all had a fair crack at it now.

‘Fitness-wise, we’re not far away; it’s just a bit of sharpness we still need, particularly in the final third. A little more efficiency there, and we would probably have been a couple of goals up by half-time.

‘It’s the final ball we didn’t quite get right when we had good spells in the first half, but we have got lads who will execute those when we sort that out, so I’m not overly concerned.

‘Sharpness and decision-making are key for us, and it’s the one area we still need to work on. It’s just a case of the front players clicking, and when they do, we are more than capable of absolutely tearing teams to pieces.’