FOOTBALL has been parked — and rightly so for this moment in time.
Players currently sitting at home will be finding it tough as being away from the pitch or from training for weeks on end is a daunting prospect.
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But it must be said that, right now, our focus should not be on our privileged footballing heroes stranded from the game they love.
We often highlight heroes on the pitch but in the situation we find ourselves in, we are seeing the real heroes in everyday life — and they are the NHS workers.
When we talk about hard work, commitment and graft — which we often mention with football and other sports — we have to point out that right now our health system and its selfless workers are doing exactly that and more.
This is a global situation and to get out of it requires everyone working together — and we have a lot to be thankful for with our brilliant NHS.
In terms of football, it’s difficult to find it important right now.
What is important is getting the country back to normal by following the Government’s advice which is proving very difficult and challenging for everyone.
For footballers, like anyone else, it will be tough mentally. No player likes not playing.
Footballers are creatures of habit in terms of going to training, coming back to rest and then preparing for Saturday.
That will be what the players are missing most — routine.
They will have to make their own routines for one of the first times in their careers without anyone there beside them, encouraging or motivating them.
They’ll be looking for an end game from all of this and not having that clarity will be the frustrating thing.
Following last week’s announcement, the Premier League want to explore every possible avenue to finish the season and that is the right way to go about it.
But when we will get it going again, no one knows. Everyone is in the same boat.
We are just guessing when everything will hopefully return to normality.
It’s true that footballers now have a lot to keep themselves occupied aside from their training regimes, with PlayStations and various games consoles.
When I was growing up and coming through the system it was the old Atari console with just Pac-Man or asteroids!
But even with the entertainment systems at their fingertips, players are going to find it very difficult, just like the rest of the country.
It is also difficult in the sense that, normally they can leave the country and get away from it all, but with what feels like the world being in lockdown, the only place you can go is your garden.
I am sure the clubs will be keeping in touch with all of their players in terms of what they need to be doing and if some of them just need to talk.
When football does start again, the players will need time to get up to speed, which is normally what pre-season is for.
In the summer, you know what your aim is — that first game of the season.
But no one knows when the first game back will be. That goes for the public and their jobs as well.
It will almost be like a mini pre-season, which will test their bodies when the players do eventually come back, for sure.
The Premier League and clubs have responded to it with speed and flexibility to redirect resources to the communities and vulnerable groups.
You are seeing more and more clubs do it, which is great for the Premier League and the rest of the football pyramid.
The letter that England manager Gareth Southgate put out was also excellent in terms of applauding the footballing authorities for making the right decision and how we need to all focus on getting back to normality.
The tone was perfect and in terms of what he said and how he said it, it was superb.
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Having played with and against him during my career, it is no surprise that Gareth is taking on the responsibility as a leader, not just for English football, but the country as a whole.
I absolutely agree with everything he said. Staying healthy and staying positive — and looking towards the future while making sure we do what we need to do right now.
We have never heard of anything like this and hopefully never again will the sport and the country have to tackle a pandemic of this magnitude.