BRADFORD (Park Avenue)'s Nicky Clee thought half a year out of the game may have brought down the curtain on his illustrious non-league career.

The enforced break, due to the pandemic, had the experienced midfielder questioning whether his performances would dip when football was safe enough to resume.

After a strange pre-season and a niggling injury, the signs were not good for one of Mark Bower's most trusted players.

However, a few decent showings to start the campaign, has brought back some confidence to Bradford's vice captain.

Clee said: "At 37, six months out of the game is a long time.

"I had a little knee injury in pre-season, so I had a few weeks off.

"I have always said I am not going to stick it out just for the sake of playing football.

"If I am making a impact in games and still feel ok, I will keep playing. As soon as I start thinking the game has past me by, that is me done.

"The last month my knee is feeling better and I feel stronger. I have started alright so hopefully I can keep going."

With Avenue's fixture yesterday at Hereford, falling by the wayside due to the squad having to isolate until October 17, Clee does think it would be the final straw if the (un)thinkable happened.

"If they cancelled the season, I think that would be me done," he chuckled.

"It would be frustrating to think we have been back in since July then get to November and they say let’s cancel.

"We hadn’t played since March. Pre-season was stop-start because of the pitch and Covid.

"The last three or four weeks, we have had a good run of training and games so you could see the lads getting fitter.

"Now, we have two weeks off again where we can’t do anything. You can’t leave the house, pop for a run, or meet the lads for training.

"The other teams will train and play. They will be getting that match fitness in while we will be losing it.

"When you see things like this happen, it tends to bring the best out of people.

"I think it already has (pulled the group together). Some of the younger lads are coming out of their shell.

"Hopefully, we can get these two weeks done as quick as possible and get back too it."

Clee, who has played for the likes of Altrincham, Harrogate and Guiseley, has also had to get used to playing in front of a crowdless Horsfall Stadium.

"It is completely different," he added.

"It is a level playing field now, there is no home advantage. It is just weird.

"You can hear everything on the pitch. You have got to adjust.

"When they (fans) are cheering and chanting, that is sometimes what you need to get you through games.

"It goes dead and you have to make the atmosphere yourselves.

"I am pretty good at that anyway, but a lot of the younger lads are not used to nobody watching."

The versatile player has taken the positives away from his team's opening defeats to Spennymoor Town and Gateshead.

Defensive errors were a theme in the 2019/20 campaign, and Clee thinks Park Avenue are starting to correct this, as well as, addressing their conumdrum at the other end of the pitch.

He added: "Last season, when I came back, we played alright but we kept losing. We gave away stupid early goals.

"This year, the main thing is that we do not concede in the first five minutes. Already, we are making teams work for goals.

"It depends what you want from your centre forward. We have been spoiled in the past with Boysey (Adam Boyes) and Jake (Beesley).

"We have played two games with two different types of centre forward.

"If we are setting up to be more direct, you have got Adam (Nowakowski) with quick people running off him.

"If a team have a higher line, we have someone like Lewis (Knight) who can stretch the pitch.

"We scored two in two which we might not have done last year. The more games we play the better we will be."