COLNE boss Nathan Rooney wants his side to pick up where they left off when ‘non-elite’ football comes out of lockdown next month.

The Reds, just like fellow Northern Premier League NW Division sides Clitheroe and Ramsbottom, have had an impressive start to the season and Rooney wants his players to come back fitting and stronger.

All football below Level Three has been suspended until December 2 following instructions from the FA after the government announced a second national lockdown.

The NPL was suspended with Ramsbottom top of the NW Division with Colne third and Clitheroe two places behind.

While Rooney understands the health and safety of everyone is paramount, he wants his players to come back hungry and motivated.

“As we all know, we find ourselves in unprecedented times once again, where our lives and those close to us, must take priority,” Rooney told the club website.

“Football, for myself has been my main driving force and to be representing Colne FC as the manager has been an honour up to this stage.

“We’ve had a great start to the season after coming through a very tough and challenging pre-season, working under certain restrictions and protocols.

“Every player and every member of staff should be very proud of their achievements up to now.  “Our togetherness and professionalism that everyone has displayed since we started back in July has been second-to-none under the circumstances and this must continue to grow.

“We must now come back stronger in all areas, displaying that hunger and motivation to overcome the four-week suspension.

“In the meantime, I wish all the supporters, players, club staff and all your families’ my best wishes and we hope you are all back with us in December.”

Meanwhile, Clitheroe chairman Stewart Fort said the club is working just has hard off the pitch as it has on it to get through the latest lockdown.

“We are fortunate to be in a robust state on and off the pitch and believe we will come through this testing time in a position to continue building and pursuing our long-term goals,” he told the Clitheroe website.

“However, with several projects continuing to take shape to improve facilities at Shawbridge, and accelerate those plans, we do need to and try keep income streams open.”

Elsewhere, AFC Darwen signed off with a 1-0 home defeat to Lower Breck as the North West Counties League suspended play for a month.

The Salmoners were one of the last teams from ‘non-elite’ football to play following the government’s announcement that the game would be halted as part of a nationwide lockdown.

Manager Kenny Langford would have been looking to go in to the enforced break with a victory but a goal by Jamie Menagh early in the second half settled the First Division North clash.

AFC Darwen along with other East Lancashire NWCL clubs - Barnoldswick, Padiham, Nelson and Bacup - will now not be able to train or play until December 2 with clubs missing up to six games in that period.

The NWCL said it will do all it can to support its clubs during this time.

Following the FA announcement, which confirmed football below Step 3 will be suspended during the second national lockdown, the league said: “The health and well-being of all officials, players and spectators has always been the main priority of the League and our clubs have invested considerable time and money in ensuring grounds are COVID-19 secure.

“We are naturally disappointed that football at Steps 3-6 has had to stop when these measures have been in place.

“However, like many sectors impacted by COVID-19, the current situation is beyond our control.

“The League is working with clubs to understand the implications of the latest lockdown measures and will discuss contingency plans at its Management Committee meeting later today.

“We will work with the FA on plans for resuming the season when we are in a position to do so.”