Graeme Shinnie says he’s making the most of the unexpected opportunity to enjoy more family time - but he won’t need any motivation to get his football boots back on in the near future.
The ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has provided a drastic change in the day-to-day lives of everyone across the United Kingdom, and the world, as the battle to control the spread of the virus continues.
The football season in England came suspended over a month ago as the virus took hold and the football authorities have collectively agreed that the professional game in will not resume until it is safe to do so.
Derby haven’t been in action since the 3-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers on 8th March, with Shinnie playing the full 90 minutes, and since then new rules form the UK Government have been enforced.
People may only leave home to exercise once a day, travel to and from work when it is absolutely necessary, shop for essential items and fulfil any medical or care needs.
Derby’s players have been provided with fitness regimes to fulfil at home to ensure they remain in the best possible physical condition for when the time comes that they can return to training and begin preparing for matches once again.
Alongside keeping himself ticking over, Scotland international midfielder Shinnie is making the most of the chance to spend quality time with his two young daughters and his wife Jodie.
“We are all very well; it’s tough times at the moment but I am trying to make the most of it by spending time with my family,” Shinnie told Owen Bradley when speaking to RamsTV via Zoom as part of Derby’s ‘Stay Fit. Stay Safe. Stay Connected.’ initiative.
“Obviously we do a lot of travelling during the season, staying in hotels for away matches and playing midweek games as well.
“To have this much time at home with my children and my wife has been really good.
“When the weather has been good it has made it a lot easier with the kids and being in the garden, although home schooling has been a bit tough!”
He added: “I’ve seen a few of the lads with kids have been kept busy with some of their social media posts, but I’m jealous of those that don’t have children and I guess they are relaxing and watching Netflix!
“The days are passing quite quick with the amount of stuff we’ve been doing.”
Clubs are following guidance from the relevant football authorities as to when training sessions can begin again.
Shinnie admits going from spending every day with his team-mates to not seeing them for a lengthy period has taken some getting used to.
“It’s a strange feeling because you get used to a routine; coming in every morning and seeing the boys and the same faces,” he explained.
“It is strange not to have that now, even not going to the training ground and being around the place.
“It’s a situation we’ve never had before. The boys all get on really well, spending a lot of time together during the season, and I don’t think it you realise just how much.”
Shinnie says he’s feeling in good physical shape and has been going on regular runs and following a fitness programme provided by the club.
However, he believes the biggest hurdle to overcome will be gaining match sharpness when the times comes for competitive football to be played again.
He spent two months out of action in the winter with a hamstring injury and he admits that it took him some time to get up to speed once he returned to the first-team fold.
Shinnie has made 18 appearances in all competitions this season, after arriving from Aberdeen last summer.
“For me, it’s not too bad actually because I feel my natural fitness is there”, he said.
“I’ve been doing running in the streets, but obviously when we go back everyone will be lacking that match fitness.
“We don’t know when we are going back but everyone will need to catch up on that sharpness.
“When I came back from my injury earlier this year, I am not going to lie, I struggled in the first couple of games to get back to the level I was at beforehand.
“The boys were playing really well. It was quite tough to get those standards back up to where they were.”
Shinnie added: “I felt like the Blackburn was the game where I felt I’d got back to my form from earlier in the season, but then everything came to a halt which was disappointing.“When we come back, whenever it is, everyone will be in the same boat.”