Ford Laser water pump replacement

Hi all,
I have just replaced the water pump in a KE Laser and have a few questions.
As I did not have the luxury of working on the engine out of the vehicle, I
have left the plastic cowlings that normally go over the timing belt off - is this a problem?
What is the best way to get the timing belt back on to the cam pulley? I have marked the original position so that isn't a problem (I hope!) My current plan is to sit the belt in some hot water to make it more flexible and (hopefully) expand it a bit to make it fit - is the OK to do?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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