Patching Hoping League of Ireland Follows Premier League’s Lead
As a Manchester City fan, Will Patching will have a close eye on the Premier League’s return in the coming days but he is more concerned about if, and when, the League of Ireland will follow suit.
One hundred days after a ball was last kicked in England’s top-flight, the action gets underway again on Wednesday evening. Pep Guardiola’s side host Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium and after spending more than a decade at City, it’s no surprise that Patching’s heart lies in the blue half of Manchester.
“When the Bundesliga came back in Germany a few weeks ago it was great and I’m looking forward to the Premier League coming back now as well,” said the 21-year-old.
“I joined the City academy when I was six so I support them. It’s going to be weird without the fans at the Etihad. I know they’ve added crowd sounds so it’ll be interesting to see how that works. It’s a bit false but I’d rather have football with that, than no football at all.”
Unfortunately, no football at all is a scenario that League of Ireland clubs are increasingly facing. The FAI were due to speak to the clubs on Wednesday afternoon but after an eventful weekend, a quick resolution looks highly unlikely.
After 12 weeks apart, the Dundalk squad are into their second week of training and Patching said that being back amongst a group provided some comfort in the absence of competitive games.
“It feels good to be back in the swing of things,” he said. “The first couple of days were tough and your touch is never the sharpest but this week the standard has gone up and everyone looks back to their usual selves.
“We just can’t wait for some games to come now. We don’t know when that will be and it’s frustrating that we have no time period to work towards but at least we’re back together as a group.
“The lockdown was hard,” he added. “It was the same every day. Wake up, go down to the field and do the exercise that Graham (Norton) had set us to do and then try and find stuff to do at home for the rest of the day.
“After a couple of months, it became boring. I’d always try and take a ball with me when I was doing my runs or whatever but it was weird.”
The 21-year-old spent the lockdown back in his native Manchester and he said that the events of the past three months had left a lasting impression on himself and the city.
“England has been hit quite badly with COVID-19 and although Manchester hasn’t felt it as hard as places like London, a lot is going on in the city with the George Floyd protests and stuff. It’s been a mad couple of months; hard to believe really.”
His move back to Dundalk has been a busy one. After initially staying in Belfry Gardens, Patching has now taken up residence on the Armagh Road, where he lives with Nathan Oduwa and Taner Dogan.
The trio cycle to training each day after picking up new wheels from Declan McArdle in local shop, Tommy The Bike, and Patching said he was very comfortable in his new surroundings.
“The squad is made up of a good group of lads,” he said. “Even when we were off, we all kept in contact and I’m in a group chat with the other English lads so I’ve settled very quickly.”
Top: Will Patching, pictured during a Dundalk training session at Oriel Park. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile