Dundee players made their long-awaited return to training today after almost six months on the sidelines as they started pre-season preparations for Championship campaign 2020/21.
There was no Charlie Adam on show, however, with club and player still in negotiations over a move to his boyhood club for the former Rangers, Liverpool, Stoke and Scotland midfielder.
New signings Lee Ashcroft, Danny Mullen and Alex Jakubiak, however, were there as they took to the pitch for the first team in Dundee kit.
They were joined by their new team-mates in a vastly different training session to the ones they are used to with strict rules in place to prevent possible spread of coronavirus.
The Regional Performance Centre at Caird Park was opened specially for manager James McPake to put his players through their paces for the first time since the beginning of March.
After players arrived in separate cars and their temperatures taken on entry, every single piece of equipment – whether used or not – had to be sprayed with disinfectant, bibs and other pieces of kit weren’t to be handed from person to person and only a certain amount of players were allowed in particular zones.
Such is the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus crisis, however, the Scottish FA published new guidelines on football training while the dark blues were out on the pitch at the RPC.
That means that some of the guidelines and protocols in place for the first day of training have already changed by day two tomorrow.
Manager McPake was pleased to get his squad back together after a very long time off. Speaking before pre-season got under way, he said: “It was good to see them all. It’s been the best part of six months we have been away since our last training session so we are keen to get back.
“As a club we are keen to have them so it was good to see them. It is difficult circumstances for the three new boys who are meeting their new teammates when they are having to distance but that will soon be ok.
“Things have changed, drastically in the world as we all know. Even in football, it’s different. It’s different for the players. We had to go through what has changed around the club and how we are going to minimise the risk to the players and their families of them coming back to work and back to training.
“The most normal thing the players are going to find is the training sessions, what we are used to as normal. It’s going to be hard work.
“They have done great over the period of lockdown with their programmes. They have done a lot of work which they didn’t have to but they have done it and having them back now we will test them and see where they are at.”
He added: “They have been away for a while so it is important we are careful to an extent, get them back in and get the balls going again. We can expect them to come back desperate to do the work and let’s enjoy being back at work, that’s a massive thing for us.
“We have six weeks till our first competitive game so we have plenty time to get the work in that we want to do and manage that through the period.
“Everybody is looking forward to it, not just the players.
“The staff are delighted, the supporters will be delighted to see the team back, the club has always been here but to see the team back and preparing for what is a massive season for us.”