Marine: Non-league side's unorthodox preparations for FA Cup second-round tie

"It's been quite full on in terms of seeing the patients and how they present."

Marine defender Danny Shaw has had quite the build-up to their FA Cup second-round tie at home to Havant and Waterlooville on Sunday.

When he is not playing for the Northern Premier League Division One North West side, the 24-year-old is a physio at the nearby Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

The eighth-tier side, who beat League Two Colchester United on penalties to reach round two, were one of 10 'non-elite teams' to take part in the first round despite lockdown restrictions.

"There's a lot of support there from the staff at the hospital," Shaw told BBC Sport.

"I'm on critical care at the minute. Coming off a Covid ward to train, sometimes I wonder, should I be here or not? I don't want to pass it on to the lads and then ruin the next round for them, for example."

Staying fit within the guidelines

Marine celebrate after reaching the second round stage of the competition for the first time since 1992-93
Marine celebrate after reaching the second-round stage of the competition for the first time since 1992-93

With their regular season put on hold, Marine have been given permission from the Football Association to train before their cup tie.

In contrast, their opponents, who are currently ninth in the National League South table, have been able to operate as normally as possible as an 'elite' club.

With the prospect of a lucrative third-round tie, as well as their participation in this season's FA Trophy, Marine have scheduled friendlies around Sunday's tie in order to keep fit.

"The standards have been great," Shaw continued. "The club have followed all the guidelines and rules and it's been a pretty smooth transition in coming to training and matches."

Midfielder James Barrigan juggles his on-field responsibilities with his day job as a bin man.

It is an activity that he feels has served him well without the ability to train as they would in a more normal season.

"It helps, to be honest, because I'm walking during the day and that keeps me fit and active," Barrigan told BBC Sport.

"It's tiring when you're up so early in the morning and then you play games on the night.

"We've worked right through the pandemic and I've been quite lucky to still be in a job."

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