LAST Tuesday afternoon, I drove through the Staplewood gates for the first time since mid-March. 

With the health situation being so serious, the club has to be on top of everything in making sure we’re following the correct procedures and different protocols. None of us need reminding the devastating effect this terrible disease is having on society. 

So, I just thought I’d give you a bit of a glimpse into what training is like at the moment and the different things (alongside many others) which are now becoming part of the norm. 

Firstly, the squad has been split into small groups and each group has been given different arrival times. That has meant there’s no risk of overcrowding. As always and even more so now, the whole complex is immaculate – there’s hand sanitiser on every corner and all the floors and surfaces are gleaming.

All of us have been instructed to arrive each day in our training kit and the main buildings are all closed. We are now washing all of our training kit at home too and we have been given boxes to put all of our possessions in when we arrive as well as cordoned-off areas to sit and put our boots on. 

Though it’s from a distance, it is so good to see the boys again! The period that we’ve had off has been longer than the one we would normally have at the end of each season – so it was effectively the longest we’d all been apart from each other as a team.

Like wider society, the boys haven’t been able to get a haircut and while some of the boys have been brave and done a DIY job, others have let it grow. There are some interesting styles everywhere you look – I’ll let you guys be the judges when some of the photos begin to pop up…            

It was still far from normal, as it was only the first team squad and very limited staff allowed. The training ground felt quite eerie around the place. We’re effectively going in to train, nothing more. So, as a result, there’s no use of the dressing room and the canteen is out of bounds at the moment.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the incredible pitches, they still look in pristine condition and were all ready for us on arrival. We’re fortunate enough at Staplewood that there’s multiple grass pitches for us to use, so social distancing works perfectly when it comes to training separately.

On the first day back we trained quite late in the afternoon, and as you all know the weather has been incredible as of late. We’ve been given snoods to wear over our mouths and noses when training which adds a new dimension to the intensity levels in this heat!

Bearing in mind we haven’t been on the pitch for over two months, these first few sessions back have just been about us getting back working with a ball again and more importantly to start building those fitness levels up.

So, for us goalkeepers, there was some separate catching and reflex practice which helped dust off a few cobwebs.

I will say that I am missing the camaraderie that takes place in the changing room once a session has finished – normally we’d all be bringing up who got nutmegged the most during rondos and most importantly, who’s playing darts!

Personally, it’s been great to be back out on the training pitch – that’s a feeling that I have missed hugely over these last couple of months!