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Jim McInally: Wiping of suspensions would help lower league players and clubs with impending fixture backlog

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally.

Peterhead manager Jim McInally believes outstanding suspensions could be wiped to help lower league clubs when the season resumes.

Football below the Championship is currently in limbo, having been suspended on January 11 until the end of this month.

Although it appears likely, there has yet to be any confirmation that the initial three-week pause will be extended.

Clubs in League One and Two came up with a return to playing document, which was discussed with SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell earlier this week. Among their proposals, the third and fourth tier sides suggest aiming to start playing matches on March 2.

If it is March before the Blue Toon and their contemporaries can get back in action, fixture congestion is likely to a problem.

Every club in League One and Two has at least 16 league fixtures to play and the majority are also still involved in the Scottish Cup.

As a result ,McInally believes wiping the suspensions incurred before the current shutdown would help clubs deal with the backlog and lots midweek fixtures, which he believes will lead to an increase in injuries.

The Blue Toon currently have Simon Ferry due to serve a two-game suspension, while Steven Boyd has a one-game ban.

McInally said: “I think all these things could be wiped out because ultimately they’ve all been stopped from playing.

Steven Boyd, right, is due to serve a one-game ban.

“I think they’ve got to think about the players and if they wiped the suspensions for when we come back that would help everyone’s squads.

“We haven’t really had it this season where we’ve had the majority of players fit, but it’s been difficult with the way things have been.

“I was speaking to Jim Duffy the other day and with the amount of games that are going to need to be played, you’ll need a lot of luck when it comes to injuries.

“There’s no doubt if lots of games are being crammed in midweek then it takes its toll.

“The likes of Dumbarton are already a couple of games behind, which will be even more difficult for them and, depending when we do restart, it might be impossible.”

If the shutdown of lower league football continues, the amount of preparation time needed for squads to be ready to return to action may also need to increase.

Jim McInally believes some players in the lower leagues could have been loaned to the Championship to keep them match sharp.

McInally believes if the lower leagues had been given a better idea of how long they would be in cold storage for then some players could have been loaned to the Championship on short-term deals to keep them match sharp.

The SPFL’s longest-serving manager added: “The other thing is that we’ve got some players who could go and do a turn for teams in the Championship.

“So if we’d known how long we would be stopped for, these players could be loaned out, which would have helped Championship clubs and kept some players from the lower leagues playing and match sharp.

“I’m sure most clubs have players that other teams might have looked at, because in the Championship they’re not running with big squads either.”

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