A bout of Covid; interminable days in isolation; persistent transfer speculation — it is little wonder Kai Kennedy is so excited about the prospect of getting back to what he does best following an arduous few weeks.
The in-demand Rangers winger finally penned a season-long loan deal with Dunfermline on Thursday morning, concluding a protracted process and offering him a semblance of certainty.
The switch had been verbally agreed some time ago but Kennedy was halted in tracks when he tested positive during the pandemic.
A whirlwind of publicity was then kicked up when news of West Ham United’s rejected six-figure bid emerged. Pars fans started to believe the deal might collapse if the Gers sought to cash in.
As it happens, Rangers have no desire to sell the Scotland youth international and Kennedy has no desire to alter his plans for the coming campaign.
“I caught Covid a few weeks ago and was meant to come here after that, then other stuff happened,” said Kennedy. “I had to isolate and just use that time to work hard, get fit and focused. It’s been a long few weeks but we’ve finally got it done and I can’t wait to get started.”
Weights and protein shakes
Indeed, he is keen to accentuate the positives of that spell in isolation, insisting it allowed him to focus on bulking up — something which is a key goal for the diminutive wide-man.
“It might sound daft, but I feel like that period actually helped me to get stronger and more physical,” he continued. “That’s something I’ve been wanting to focus on, more than anything.
“Rangers sent me a bike and I had my own equipment — weights and things like that — at home. I just used the time to put in graft and get myself fit.
“The bike kept me fit but I was more interested in adding strength to my game.
“I’ve been aware of my size for a while now and I’m constantly working hard in the gym; keeping on top of my diet and nutrition; drinking a lot of protein shakes — this season I want that to shine through.”
Rangers have an option to recall Kennedy in January, should Steven Gerrard decide he has earned a run in the Ibrox first-team — or if they do choose to accept an offer for his services. Suitors still abound.
“You go out on loan to prepare and be ready to go back and be part of Rangers first team. That is my ambition,” continued Kennedy.
Asked about the interest from the Hammers, Kennedy responded: “I just kept my head. I kept working hard no matter what happened behind the scenes.
“Whatever happened, happened and I am just glad to be at Dunfermline and getting back to playing football.”
‘It was an easy decision in the end’
The attacking, free-flowing philosophy of Pars boss Peter Grant was a major selling point during discussions and Kennedy believes he can thrive in Fife.
Formerly of Raith Rovers — where John McGlynn was similarly committed to passing, progressive football — and Inverness, it is another opportunity to star in the Championship for the teenager.
“I played against the gaffer’s Alloa team a lot last year and liked the way he plays,” lauded Kennedy. “His style suits me as a player and it’s the right move for me. It was an easy decision in the end.
“The more of the ball you have, the more chance you have of winning the game. Dunfermline have already been creating chances and scoring goals — and I’ll just look to add to that.”
Kennedy and fellow new signing Reece Cole could both make their debuts when the Pars face Stenhousemuir in the Premier Sports Cup on Saturday.
He added: “I trained on Thursday and the session was great, and the standard was good. The boys were in high spirits and we are just looking forward to Saturday. Hopefully, we can get the win that will take us through to the next round.”