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Mark Allen settling in snooker's 'strange' new world as Antrim star to return today



Mark Allen

Mark Allen

Getty Images

Mark Allen

Mark Allen admitted he is finding snooker's new normal "strange" as he prepares to become Northern Ireland's first high profile sports star to return to action following coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Allen will today compete in the £220,000 Championship League in Milton Keynes, taking on Nigel Bond, Michael White and Martin O'Donnell in four-frame matches live on ITV4, with the group winner progressing and returning to action tomorrow ahead of Thursday's final.

Most of snooker's big names have dusted down their cues to compete in the first tournament since the Gibraltar Open in March, with five-time World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan and current global kingpin Judd Trump already through to the next stage.

All players are covid-tested the day before their matches and stay in an on-site hotel with the action taking place in an empty arena where social distancing guidelines are observed between both the players and the referee.

Allen said he has found the whole experience of being tested bizarre - but has clearly not lost his sense of humour.

"It was definitely a strange feeling," said the 34-year-old World number six.

"With my track record with tests in school, I am holding out for a miracle," quipped the 2018 Masters champion.

The ITV4 coverage starts at 2.50pm.

Belfast Telegraph