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Derby ready for Bolton test in NFS opener

After an extremely long-awaited return to futsal, Derby’s Mens first team will return to competitive action, as they face Bolton Futsal Club in the FA National Futsal Series Summer Showdown on Sunday.

The two sides will open the shortened competition, with the fixture kicking off at 10:30am at St Georges’ Park.

In the April draw, Derby and Bolton were placed in group A, with Worcester and ProFutsal London making up the other two spaces. The teams will compete for a place in the 27th June Grand Final, where the winners of Group B will await, with the FA NFS title and a place in the 2021/22 UEFA Futsal Champions League on the line.

Bolton head into this fixture as an established NFS One side, having competed in the first NFS season, which was cut short in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2014, the Lancashire club are currently coached by England international, Stuart Cook, with former Derby player Ollie Whaley, and trialist, Connor Woodworth both key members of their first team squad. They will be looking to build on an impressive first season in the top tier and have been buoyed by the news that England ‘keeper, Joe Payne will be available for the Summer Showdown following injury.

Derby, meanwhile are stepping up to this level for the first time in their history. The club have made seven new additions to the playing squad, whilst also announcing Chris Sewell had been added to their coaching team earlier this week. These new faces will add depth to their ranks and have made squad selection the most challenging part of the week for Player/Head Coach, Sam Huntingdon.

Speaking to about the new faces, Huntingdon said “They have added some real strength and depth across all areas. The players we’ve brought in have varying levels of experience but are talented individuals and will be ready to get straight into the action this weekend.

“Chris is also a great addition as he brings a wealth of experience and know how to the club. The more eyes we have on the game and the more expertise that we can add, only strengthens our game play and further progresses us as a club.

“We have such a large squad now full of character and talent. This is the position that we have strived for and it’s great that we get to showcase this during the Summer Showdown.”

Derby have integrated these players into the group successfully and there is a unity amongst the squad already, with the club ready to impress and show that they are worthy of a place at the highest level. The squad took part in two tune up fixtures at the University of Derby last Sunday, with Leicester Futsal Club and Birmingham Team United visiting Kedleston Road.

Pleased with what he saw at the weekend, Huntingdon feels confident heading into the opening match.

“We’re confident that we have a squad that will compete in this game on Sunday. Bolton have some big players who can turn a game on its head at any given moment. But Futsal is a sport that requires mental strength as well as physicality. We believe that we have a good chance in any game over the course of this competition and we are here to prove ourselves.”

The match looks set to kick the series off with a bang, with both sides relishing the opportunity to return to the court.

Previous meetings tell us that this will be lively. In three previous competitive encounters, Derby and Bolton have one win each, sandwiching a 2-2 draw at the Trafford Soccerdome in October 2018. Sunday promises to be another mouth watering tie and will be a fitting way for the NFS to launch their top tier men’s competition for 2021.

You can catch the game live on the FA National Futsal Series YouTube channel, as well as highlights on FreeSports next Saturday afternoon. Live updates on the day, will be found on Derby’s Twitter.

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