Paddy McLaughlin says he and his players have maintained regular contact during football’s coronavirus-enforced suspension, but insists that the game itself is some way down their list of priorities.
The Irish FA yesterday announced an extension of football’s lockdown until April 30 at the earliest and Cliftonville boss McLaughlin admits that, while everyone is missing being out on the pitch, keeping healthy is all that matters at the minute.
“The boys have a team WhatsApp group that they use to keep in touch with eachother and I’ve spoken to them all as a group as well as individually,” he explains.
“I’ve just been checking in on them to make sure that they and their families are OK, which is everyone’s priority just now. Thankfully, everyone’s keeping well and long may that continue.
“I don’t think that anybody anywhere is really thinking about football at this minute in time. Obviously we’re all looking forward to the day we’re back at it but, until then, looking out for friends and family is everybody’s priority.”
More than a fortnight has now passed since the Reds were last in action and, though no return is scheduled for the foreseeable future, McLaughlin says his squad are all adhering to their own personal training routines for whenever that time comes.
“I’ve been able to trust them to look after themselves since the day I came to the Club and there’s no reason for that to change now,” he adds.
“They’re a good bunch and I know they’ll take care of their fitness but it’s a strange time because we obviously don’t know what date we’re working towards for getting back into training, nevermind actually playing a match.
“It’s a frustrating situation for everybody but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really important. So long as everyone and their families are healthy by the time football comes back, that’s what matters – and that goes for everybody from players, to coaches, staff, supporters and everybody involved.
“We were just coming into the final straight of the season and our performances in the last few games were really good. Hopefully we can maintain that whenever the time comes but, for now, let’s just make sure everyone’s being well looked after.”