Dundee manager James McPake says the last few weeks have been the toughest time of his entire footballing career.
As his team have struggled for results and pressure has ramped up, the Dens Park boss has had to contend with a number of injuries as well as having three players missing through Covid-19.
On top of all the on-field matters, McPake has also been embroiled in a court case after an altercation in a Dundee bar last year in which he was found not guilty of homophobic abuse.
However, he feels like brighter days are on the horizon at Dens Park as he begins to get players back fit and available.
And he has hailed his players for their attitudes in overcoming the difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
McPake said: “We know what is hanging around and we know people can get injured but I believe we are now strong as a squad and we have plenty of options.
“I think this has been my toughest time as a football player or manager, just with everything that is going on.
“There are no fans, the whole environment is different. Even things like the way we have to show videos and the way we have to do analysis, or we can eat at some places, we can’t eat at others – all the wee stupid stuff.
“It is difficult for the players as they are turning up for training and then just going away without showering on their own.
“But they are resilient and I cannot fault them for the way they have handled everything. It is a complete change of environment.
“We are not testing but we are following strict protocols and are still losing players to the virus – Graham Dorrans, Lee Ashcroft and Danny Mullen.
“But the most important thing is that they are now healthy and their families are healthy.
“I am though very conscious of going down that route and using it as an excuse. I keep saying it but people are losing their lives and I am worried about not having a squad for football. . .
“I get it but my job is to win games of football and having the squad back does help that.
I think we did go through an unlucky period. I have never seen a period like that where we were getting so many injuries.
“It was tough but we got on with it and we are in a better place.”
McPake is ready to welcome Mullen back to his squad this weekend after the striker came into close contact with a positive Covid-19 case and had to self-isolate.
Also back training is midfielder Callum Moore after recovering from surgery to mend a broken foot while Jordon Forster returned to the bench at Hibs last weekend after a similar problem.