Hi everyone - this is the first of my columns for the Daily Echo. I’m going to be writing these when I can throughout the pandemic.

I’ll warn you that I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m going to try my best to bring you up to speed with everything that I’ve been up to. 

I might be more used to saving shots on the pitch than saving newspaper articles on my computer but I’m looking forward to it and the idea is for me to be able to speak directly with you.

If you’re anything like me and you’ve already worked through most of your favourite TV series and films, I’m hoping this may help you get your fix of all things Saints for the time being.

Ordinarily, I’m going to be covering things like how I’ve been keeping myself occupied, my training, my diet, and how I’ve been keeping in touch with rest of the lads, but today I wanted to say a few words on the current situation to kick things off. 

I think it’s only been three weeks since our last completed Premier League match but day-to-day life is now immeasurably different and, for me, it’s times like these that make you realise that there is more to life than football

As a footballer, we’re often stuck in our own little bubble, so focused on the next match and preparing tactically for our opponents that nothing else seems to matter.

I’m the first to admit that football becomes the be-all and end-all and it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. My fiancée, Rachel, will often say that I can become obsessed with analysing moments in games and thinking about what I could have done better, often having my iPad glued to me as I watch back passages of play.

However, I’ve never experienced anything like this in my lifetime and, for me, it’s only served to put into perspective how precious life and health is.

It was hard to imagine anything like the current situation just a few weeks ago but we have to fight this disease head-on and follow all the guidelines to the letter.

Nothing is more important than health and I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are all safe and sound.

From my own past, some of you may know that my dad, Martin, was seriously injured when he was knocked off his push bike by a drunk driver in Luxembourg, while he was working there as an engineer. 

He nearly died of hypothermia and had to learn to walk again.

I’m mentioning this because that episode taught me never to take health for granted, which I think is particularly poignant at a moment like this. Instead, it’s a time to protect yourselves and your loved ones. 

Now, it is undoubtedly an extremely challenging and testing time but positivity is also crucial and my mind boggles at the bravery shown by all the health and care workers on the front line who are caring for some of our loved ones. 

Footballers are sometimes put on a pedestal because we’re in the public eye and the sport is so popular but what these guys are doing day in, day out is on a totally different level. I’ve got nothing but total respect and admiration for them.

We have several family friends who work in the NHS and their selflessness in this crisis is incredible.

I’ve also found hearing about all those who are volunteering and helping others who may be lonely or struggling, extremely heart-warming.

I’ve said on many occasions that I feel at home at Saints and I’m really proud that the club and Saints Foundation have come up with the great idea of donating meals to those who need them as well as many other initiatives including tickets for NHS staff. 

As a matter of fact, whenever we are in the dressing room before we go out at St Mary’s, some of the final words of advice from the manager and the captain are to stick together no matter what and I really feel that this is being applied on a national level now. 

Later in the week, I’m going to be bringing you into the McCarthy household and letting you know what’s being going on. However, as I’m sure you appreciate, for this first column, it felt wrong not to mention what’s on all our minds. 

Please remain safe and healthy and keep the positivity and I’ll be back in a few days with a wrap-up of my week.