Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson has revealed how the uncertainty of having no return date is proving to be a massive challenge to him as a manager.
Neilson has seen his players placed on furlough, which is the UK government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, by the Tannadice club while he himself has not been.
He is unable to be in contact with the squad members because of the conditions of furlough and that has left them in the capable hands of a group of senior players.
That is one job taken care of but Neilson is still battling away with the great unknown as Scottish football sails through uncharted waters.
The United manager said: “There is the uncertainty of when we are going to come back.
“We just don’t know and it’s tough.
“You know all the (scheduled) dates over pre-season but we can’t plan anything just now because we don’t know how long we will be in lockdown for.
“Tony Asghar (United’s sporting director) and I speak regularly and we have different strategies and plans for different return dates but it is outwith our hands.
“The problem is we don’t know whether it will be weeks or months.
“Also, when we come back, even though the players will be looking after themselves we won’t know where they are sitting fitness-wise.
“Will it take us a couple of weeks to get them up to speed? Will we need to do a pre-season? Will we get that time?
“These are things we can’t answer just now,” added Neilson. “Everything is up in the air.
“It is where we are just now (but) we have to be thankful we all have jobs and everyone is healthy at the moment.”
Neilson is relying on his players to stay as fit as possible while restricted to their homes. He is confident that they will do so.
The Tangerines’ gaffer added: “We have no communication with the players now and so we are trusting them to look after themselves.
“They are all young guys who want to stay fit and make themselves the best they can be.
“When I spoke to them (before furlough) I told them the biggest thing was to get themselves into a routine for their days.
“It is a lot harder when you don’t have an end goal but if they do some stuff at the start of the day it will get them started.
“They will look after themselves – I know they will.”
Neilson was comfortable with the decision to use the government scheme, a move that had the backing of the players’ union.
He added: “I spoke to all the players and a number of our coaches as well before we went into furlough.
“I explained the situation and what was happening.
“PFA Scotland (the union) were a big help as well and had recommended the scheme to all the clubs, to help us through it because it is going to be tough for everyone in football as well as the wider world.
“There is no income coming in anywhere and so it is a difficult time for a lot of people.
“The boys were brilliant and understood the situation.”
A special eye is being kept out for players who are from abroad and away from family and friends, such as Argentinian Adrian Sporle.
Neilson said: “He is on his own and is across from Argentina and we have other boys who are just here with their girlfriends and it is good for them to speak to other people at times.”
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