PICKERING Town manager Steve Roberts believes that his young squad are “moving in the right direction” on the field.

Pickering languished at the bottom of the Pitching In Northern Premier League north/west division table for the majority of last season and the decision to null and void the campaign prevented any relegation in their league.

The Pikes have fared much better so far this term under Roberts, who arrived at the club a year ago this month, and sit 16th after playing nine games.

Roberts has overseen a major rehaul of the squad and is pleased with the current progress of his group.

“I was quite pleased with the way we were moving forwards. Even though we’ve had disappointments with some results, I’ve been pleased with the performances,” said Roberts, having seen his side pick up seven points from nine games.

“I still believe that we’re moving in the right direction.

“Looking at the league table, it’s a very tight league and we’re in the position where a couple of wins takes you into mid-table, which is where we were aiming for and I still believe we could have been there.

“We were looking to add two or three more to that group, but obviously those deals which were lined up are now on hold.

“We’ve still got a strong group, which we’ll look to keep for next season and then add some more for next season.”

Given that the introduction of the third national lockdown, matches and training in the NPL have been suspended until March 6.

Once again it leaves managers like Roberts having to speak to his players remotely, with face-to-face interaction no longer an option.

“The players are still maintaining their fitness levels and in the training we did between Christmas and New Year, the fitness levels were quite good,” he explained.

“They’re still doing bits and I’ll be phoning round the players.

“But it’s awkward because when I speak to them, I want to actually know what we’re planning for, rather than being as in the dark as they are.

“Hopefully they make a decision in the next two weeks, so we can tell the players what’s going on.”

Roberts believes that the NPL will again be declared null and void, given the few games they’ve managed to play so far and the near-impossible task of fitting so many matches between early March and May, should restrictions be lifted.

He thinks that clarity needs to come quickly from the NPL, who last week revealed they will survey the opinion of their member clubs before making a decision.

Roberts said: I’m of the view, like some other managers that I’ve spoken to, where if they said ‘It’s null and void unfortunately’, then you accept that and then start your friendlies again, probably earlier in the season and we could have fans in again as normal.

“Fans will have missed it that much that you could get your revenue back that way.

“We do need to know because these clubs are looking at it from a business-perspective as well, where you need to know where your revenue is coming from at a particular time.

“It’s going to be a hard decision, but that clarity is all we need and that’s what the managers want. Deciding in the next couple of weeks would mean that we all know what is going on, because being in the dark is the worst thing.”