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Return to training a "significant step" | Bohemians boss Keith Long

Bohemians manager Keith Long believes that Irish clubs have taken a "significant step" on their w...

Return to training a

Return to training a "significant step" | Bohemians boss Keith Long

Bohemians manager Keith Long believes that Irish clubs have taken a "significant step" on their way to a return to action in the SSE Airtricity League.

The Phibsborough club, Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City were all allowed to begin collective training for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced the FAI to halt the season.

Long was happy to welcome back a very eager squad to Dalymount Park this afternoon while respecting the limit of fifteen people (including two coaches) per session.

"Delighted to be back today. Delighted to welcome back the team today," said Long.

"They'll come in in two groups to respect the latest raft of guidelines from the government. It's a real positive step forward to return to football.

"We're really looking forward to it. I know the players are looking forward to it. The staff are excited about getting back involved, getting back to training, getting back to playing football.

"Today is a really significant step in that process."

The FAI have yet to announce plans to restart the Premier Division and First Division seasons but the rest of the clubs will be allowed to begin training again next Monday, 15 June.

The four clubs that returned today are due to play in Europe and in preparation for that are set to play a mini-tournament at Tallaght Stadium in July.

Long believes that his squad have made the most of their time apart during the lockdown.

"We're looking forward to coming back. Hopefully we can return in a better frame of mind, with a clearer understanding of what we're about as a team," said Long.

"I think we've gelled immensely as a group, even remotely as we have been in the last twelve or thirteen weeks."

Bohemians took the decision in March to continue honouring the contracts of their players and staff while the season was paused.

The manager expressed his gratitude to the club's members and supporters for all they have done.

"We'd like to thank the supporters hugely over the last thirteen weeks. It's been a really difficult time for everybody involved, not to have football," added Long.

"But the support that we received from the members, the season ticket holders has been immense.

"We've got to remember that we're a supporters run club, members run club and without your support, this club doesn't happen.

"We're really grateful for that. We're grateful to the board and the decision that they made to continue to pay players' wages and staff wages and we're very cognisant of that."

Bohemians are gearing up to play in Europe for the first time since 2012 and have won three of their first five league matches this season to lie third, three points behind Dundalk in second.

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Bohemians Bohs FAI Keith Long League Of Ireland SSE Airtricity League