Planning for the new season is already underway for many WoSFL clubs yet there remains an overwhelming lack of certainty over how the next few months may pan out.

The season is set to get underway again on July 17 with the green light being given for contact training from May 17.

The longest close season in living memory, fully 7 months, presents a unique set of challenges for managers across the region, but Bellshill Athletic gaffer Derek Wilson is excited to get back underway.

Not knowing who his team will be coming up against in the soon to be revamped Conference A leaves Wilson unclear over where to pitch playing squad numbers, while the personnel he has to pick from could be construed as a cause for further concern.

Wilson also must oversee the return to Rockburn Park after a year was spent playing at the Sir Matt Busby Stadium, due to extensive damage following an Easter Sunday fire in 2020.

Wilson explained: “It’s no exaggeration to describe our clubhouse now as state of the art and it’s a fitting testimony to all the hard work carried out behind the scenes by local businesses and particularly our club officials whose vision has also seen works nearing completion on a new Hospitality Suite which will become a focal point for our guys and opposition players on matchdays.

“Getting a team on the pitch to match these somewhat sumptuous surroundings will be far from easy but our performances throughout the past Coronavirus affected season have shown the foundations are in place to allow this club to be looking to the future with some confidence.

“We’re not the finished article by any means but the signs of us making good progress are there for all to see.”

Wilson and long-standing assistant David Menelaws only took up the Bellshill reigns last August and the duo have discovered that switching off is near impossible despite their side’s long period of inactivity.

He continued: “There is never any let-up to the job because you constantly have to be looking at ways to make the team better whether that’s by coaching methods or bringing in new signings.

“We’re fortunate in some respects as 11 of last year’s squad have promised to sign on the dotted line again which provides us with a pretty solid base however David and I have been aware for some time of where improvements can be made and have already started talking to a few potential newcomers.

“Both of us have been around the block enough times to know not every signing approach will be successful and by the same token not every current Bellshill player will want to continue playing for us however we are taking encouragement from so many of the squad pledging to stay on board and more so when someone of Sean McKenna’s vast experience is fully committed to being part of what we are building here.

“He led the line brilliantly and was very effective in the games we did manage to play last season and will have a key role to play again now that we are coming up against the likes of former Championship sides Arthurlie, Shotts Bon Accord and Whitletts Vics.”

A confirmed departure is that of veteran stopper Neil Schoneville, who is taking over as Lesmahagow manager, but Wilson has not yet given up hope of retaining the services of exciting winger prospect Matty Grant. The former St Mirren man is understood to be a priority signing target of Petershill boss Martin Lauchlan.

Bellshill chief Wilson added: “Matty  made a huge impact after arriving here last season and it’s no real surprise that a number of other Junior clubs as well as Queens Park, with whom he recently played a trial match, are keen on the lad.

“But he’s happy here at Bellshill and we remain hopeful of holding onto him and I can only take promising signs from the fact he’s agreed to turn out for us in a pre-season tournament over the last weekend in May, hosted by Newmains United.

“Very soon we will begin gearing ourselves up for that tournament and it will be great to have all the guys coming together again.”

Elsewhere, new Lesmahagow boss Schonville’s recruitment plans are off to a flying start with Lewis Hill, Jordan Brown, Kyle Weir, Glen Eadie and Gary Nicholson all agreeing on returning to the Craighead Park fold.