Mark Reynolds was expecting coronavirus to land on Dundee United’s doorstep at some point.
However, maybe not to the extent it has done.
The Tangerines will go into today’s Premiership match away to Livingston without nine players, who are self-isolating after three members of the club’s backroom team tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.
Also, the Tangerines’ entire first-team coaching staff – including manager Micky Mellon – will be missing for the same reason.
Thomas Courts, the academy head of tactical performance at Tannadice, has been placed in charge of the Livi match and took training on Thursday and Friday.
Courts will be in the dugout along with other academy staff and it will be a case of wait and see which players he has at his disposal.
Not a shock
Amidst the mayhem, captain Mark Reynolds had an air of calm about him when looking ahead to the game.
The central defender felt it was just a matter of time before something like this affected the club.
He said: “In terms of us the players, we’ve been going through this whole protocol since we came back for pre-season.
“So while it’s disappointing, for us it wasn’t really a massive shock.
“When you look at other clubs and you see how rampant coronavirus has been across the world I think we felt – I know I certainly did – that it would come to our own doorstep at one point.
“I always felt we would have to deal with it at some point.
“We were tested on Tuesday as normal this week. The statement the club sent out pretty much covers what happened next.
“The decision was taken not to train on Wednesday and we were all back in on Thursday.
“It’s something we as players can’t influence or get involved in. We just have to make sure we’re prepared for Saturday.”
Courts has stressed the changeover of staff has been seamless and Reynolds backed him up.
The defender said: “Tam and Adam (Asghar), the under-18 coaches, came in on Thursday and the boys just sort of got on with it.
“We’ve all been in this position where we are working with things that are outwith our control. I have been at clubs where the manager has been sacked.
“As a player, all you can do is focus on training.
“Train well and prepare for the game – that’s been our mindset since the start of the week and that hasn’t changed.”
Reynolds, already a central character as captain, is ready to assume a greater leadership role but he argued that United players taking on added responsibility is nothing new.
He added: “With the manager we have in here, he wants us to have that responsibility all the time.
“He wants us involved in decision-making and the whole process. That’s one of the great things about working under him.
“Some managers come in and say: ‘This is what we’re doing, do this and do that.’
“The gaffer will always ask us what we think. It’s not necessarily down to us to provide the answers but the manager wants our input.
“So in this situation it’s been easier to step up.
“With him not being here you do feel that added responsibility but it’s something he’s always encouraged, certainly from my point of view as captain.
“He wants us to be vocal. If we go to Parkhead or Ibrox, for example, and there are 50,000 fans there (post-shutdown), the manager can’t impact what we do on the field.
“Because we’re in that mindset we have been able to adapt pretty easily.”
Reynolds also stressed the club’s Covid crisis should not be allowed to be used as an excuse for a poor performance against Livi this afternoon.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
“I have been involved in worse situations than this, that have been more intrusive.
“All we can control as players is training and the games.
“We need to make sure we turn up with the intensity and tempo and take it into the match.
“If we don’t get a good result or performance on Saturday I don’t think anyone will come out and say it was because the preparations were interrupted.”
Courts will, of course, be carrying out Mellon’s pre-delivered instructions and that will include the team selection.
The big question is whether or not to start star striker Lawrence Shankland.
He was on the bench for the Tangerines’ last game, the 2-1 home win over Hamilton, as Mellon went with Marc McNulty and Nicky Clark in the forward area.
Clark scored both goals and McNulty was heavily involved in the lead-up to them.
It is a headache but Reynolds feels each player will have a key role.
“We are all going to be needed at some point,” he said.
“Lawrence, if he’s not starting, will be ready to come off the bench and make an impact.
“There is no real starting 11. The manager will chop and change it and players need to be ready to come in.
“We might have injuries, loss of form, a change of shape or tactics and everyone is going to play.
“It’s great to have the depth to be able to put a Lawrence Shankland on the bench. Lawrence is the type who understands the situation and gets his head down and gets on with it.
“I am sure the next time he gets the nod to play, he will be bursting to get on. I think it’s a good sign of the strength in the squad.”