STOURPORT Swifts manager Quentin Townsend believes his side have a “genuine chance” of reaching the Buildbase FA Vase final at Wembley as Swifts finally begin preparations for their much-anticipated fourth-round tie with Walsall Wood next month.

Following the FA’s decision to null and void the non-league football season between Step 3-6 last month, Stourport have not played a game since Boxing Day and with the 2020/21 league campaign scrapped, their season continuing is solely reliant on the Vase. Lose, and that's that till August.

They were 4-3 winners in a thrilling contest at home to Shepshed Dynamo in the third-round and a near four months later, they will get to finally host fellow MFL Prem side Walsall in the fourth-round.

Despite not playing a game of football this year, Swifts’ manager Townsend is confident his side will be ready to go come next month's tie.

“We’re all in the same boat in regards to not playing any football,” he said.

“But in terms of fitness levels from my own players, we have quite a young squad who are are all avid gym goers and fitness freaks anyway so I don’t have to give them much of a kick up the backside in that sense.

“We have been doing some challenges over lockdown and they are all very competitive so I don’t have many problems with the fitness side of it but as we know, match fitness is completely different so that will be the key thing but it will be the same for both sides.”

Stourport were in fine fettle before the season ended, sitting second in the league and go into the tie with Wood having beaten them 4-2 back in October.

“Not so long before the lockdown we beat them at home and I know that counts for nothing in a one-off cup tie," he added.

“We finished second in the league (before null and void) and we were up there all season and I think we are a team that has now got a lot of respect. I know in my heart of hearts that if we play anything like we normally do, we should win but it’s a one off game and anything can happen. I have been confident in our lads all season.”

Townsend confirmed the team would have five training sessions before the game due to non-elite sport only being able to continue as of next Monday but he believes his side have what it takes to win and then go on, all the way.

"We will go into the game in the right manner and will have a few sessions before so we can work on some bits and maybe get some of that excitement out of it before the big game," continued Townsend.

"I do believe we can reach the final. We are the highest level left in the competition and we're playing Walsall who we've beaten already this season and if we play to our capabilities then we give ourselves a genuine chance."

Due to government guidelines, spectators are still now permitted to attend sporting events until at least May so fans will not be allowed in grounds for the majority of the Vase competition but Townsend insists just having football back is an exciting prospect.

"Everybody is buzzing," he said.

"Of course there will be no fans when we come back but it will be nice to have a game of football back at the club. Everyone involved will be looking forward to it and hopefully we can get one step closer to Wembley, which would top off what has actually been a good, albeit short, season."