Dundee boss James McPake is no stranger to long lay-offs.
Injuries to his back and a knee plagued the latter years of his playing career, seemingly spending as much time on the treatment table as he did on the park with the Dark Blues.
Now manager, McPake thinks the coronavirus shutdown of Scottish football has been harder to deal with.
The Dee have already been out of action for over three months and are not set to return to Championship football until October 17.
That is seven months between games and, at best, six months until training is likely to return.
Of the time out, McPake believes it can take a physical and mental toll on players.
“I think this has been worse than the injuries,” he insisted.
“I had an injury and I was told I would be out for the best part of a year.
“I have thought about this and as a footballer you always have a structure, regardless of whether you are fit or injured for a year like me.
“You know when training and games are and there will be all the preparations and it is the same with an injury.
“You would sit down with the physio and start building up your exercises and there is a plan and things to aim for.
“It is the first time I have experienced anything like this, where you didn’t know what was going to happen.
“For the last however many weeks we’ve had no idea, it’s been tough. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before so it’s hard to use anything to help get through it.
“Now we have a date, though, it changes the full look of things and we can work on what each player needs and as a team.
“I’m meeting with our medical people to make sure we get the players’ physical and mental health spot on coming through this.
“It’s a tough task but, like anything, we’ll need to build them back up gradually.”
In terms of getting his squad back up to speed, McPake continued: “It is like an ACL, doing your cruciate and being out for that length of time.
“I know you are not having to do your rehab and the players are all still in good physical shape but in terms of the time scale it is similar to being out with a major injury.
“It is tough for the players to come back and hit the ground running. That is impossible when you have been out for that long.
“They can do as much work as they want away from the club but nothing compares to being out on the pitch and doing your team work.
“That is a different level of fitness and they will come back having five or six months without that.
“That is why we have to be mindful when we return.”
Although they have a lengthy wait ahead of them, McPake says he is just happy his promotion-chasing side just have a date to aim for.
He added: “I am delighted we have got a date to build towards.
“I am not delighted it is October because in a normal season I’d love to be back but I understand why with the crisis around the world.
“The big thing is we now have a date and we can plan ahead.
“We can get our players ready for that date because before that we were all guessing.”
However, as for a return to training, there is nothing concrete on the horizon for the Dark Blues yet.
“We haven’t decided yet,” McPake admitted.
“We are still going through pre-season plans that are different to normal times.
“We are talking to experts in that field, taking advice and we will also watch what the Premiership do as well, how they come back and the shape their players return in.
“I know it is a different pre-season because they have had longer off.
“That brings risk. Injury is a big risk.
“You are getting your squad back after the same time any player would be out with a long-term injury so pre-season will be modified.
“It will still be extremely tough but it will be modified, particularly at the start.
“All those sort of small details need to be figured out.
“We have been working on our pre-season plan from the start and we know it is important because we have to give ourselves the best chance to come back, be fit and ready to go when the season does start.
“We know, though, there are steps to get the players up to that level.
“My team was fit last year and that is one area where I would stand up and defend my team. We were fit because of the pre-season and our work throughout the season.”