Liam Craig has joked that the enforced Scottish football shutdown may have prolonged his career for a few years.
The St Johnstone stalwart was left in limbo for three-months after the Covid-19 crisis forced the SPFL to halt on March 13.
However, he has nothing but praise for the way his teammates maintained their fitness during a period of inaction and uncertainty.
Craig smiled: “I try to remain optimistic and positive about everything – so I think that three-month layoff might have helped my career! It might prolong it a little bit.
“You’re not used to having that much time off.
“However, there was a lot of work done over the summer by all the players and they’ve come back looking really good and sharp.
“We’ve gone straight into the ball work and it has been good.”
Now 33 years of age and with more than 500 appearances in Scottish football under his belt, Craig is adamant he remains as enthusiastic as ever ahead of a new campaign.
He added: “From my point of view, the enjoyment is still there and I love coming into training – I’ve definitely missed that over the three-month period.
“And you can see that, although there are still some restrictions in place, the boys are loving being back in.”
That sense of excitement has only been enhanced by the arrival of new boss Callum Davidson and his assistant Steven MacLean.
And Craig is adamant the McDiarmid Park stars have responded well to the new regime and admitted the unveiling of the 2020/21 Premiership fixture list felt like a major landmark in preparations.
He told Saints TV: “There was a huge amount of excitement coming back in and having the new manager and Steven MacLean just added to that. The boys have really responded.
“And when the fixture list comes out it just gives you that sense of purpose. The management staff will be looking at ways we can win that game and bring it to the training park.”
The Saints’ opening day fixture could barely be more mouth-watering as they make the short trip to Tannadice for their first showdown with Dundee United since April 2016.
Craig’s only regret is that no supporters will be there to witness the resumption of derby day hostilities.
He added: “We’ve not played Dundee United for four years and they’ve always been good games in the past.
“The disappointment is that there won’t be any fans at the game because I think it would have been a great day for both sets of supporters; United’s because they are back in the Premiership and ours because we’ve got that derby back.
“Dundee United will be buzzing at being back in the Premier League and have a new manager too, so it’ll be difficult but a challenge we are really looking forward to.”