Friends re-united – after three months apart due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Aberdeen’s players have finally returned to training.
Boss Derek McInnes is confident stringent testing procedures and protocols will ensure player and staff safety at the club’s Cormack Park.
The club have purchased a Covid-19 testing machine to ensure regular on-site testing with rapid results. McInnes believes the outlay for a testing machine, believed to be £35,000, will be pivotal in the Dons return from the shutdown.
Temperature checks will also be taken before every session as the squad begin working towards the SPFL’ scheduled Premiership return on August 1.
Players also have to work in small groups.
Two players were absent from the training return as January signing Matty Kennedy is recovering from an ankle injury that troubled him in lockdown.
Kennedy will work with the physios on his rehabilitation for the first few weeks.
Striker Curtis Main is set to undergo minor knee surgery this week and is expected back to training in mid July.
McInnes said: “Having that ability to test quickly will be good for us and the machine will make a huge difference.
“Any days we don’t test we will be doing the thermometer test to get temperatures taken.
“We feel we can safeguard the players when they come into work. I don’t think there will be a safer place in Aberdeen than the training ground.”
Having a testing machine on-site allows the Dons to quickly and efficiently carry out the mandatory two Covid-19 tests per player per week as recommended by Dr. John MacLean, the SFA’s chief medical advisor.
The Aberdeen squad and staff all underwent Covid-19 tests at the weekend before returning to training on Monday.
In a bid to create “biosecure environments” amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group issued strict protocols that clubs must adhere to.
These protocols include players completing a daily Covid-19 questionnaire before setting off for training.
On arriving at training, players and staff will undergo a contactless temperature check to ensure they do not have the virus.
Anyone with a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or over will not be allowed access and will immediately be sent home.
Under the Joint Response Group protocols, players must arrive at training wearing their own kit and leave still wearing it.
They are required to then wash that kit at home.
After each training session equipment such as balls, cones, corner flags and GPS trackers must be meticulously cleaned.
McInnnes said: “We will be sticking to the guidelines and that initially will be two players and coach on a quarter of a pitch.
“We will be able to spin those eights round and get the work done that everybody needs.
“The first few weeks will be a little restricted.
“We are hoping on June 18 there is some relaxation or a bit more that we can do on phase two from the government.
“That in turn would help us move through the gears a bit quicker and do a bit more through the training after that.”
Aberdeen have seven weeks of pre-season training before the proposed start of the Premiership campaign.
McInnes said: “We furloughed the players until June 10 and we then put them onto a return to train programme for a few days.
“We were back to training on Monday and will now get right back into it. That gives us seven weeks to prepare for the first game of the season.”
McInnes confirmed winger Kennedy will initially sit out the training sessions to work on his rehabilitation from an ankle injury that troubled him during the lockdown training.
He said: ““Matty has been on a strengthening programme for his ankle. He got an injection.
“Matty will stay with the physio for the first couple of weeks and do his work separately.
“That is just really a precaution to get Matty fully up to speed.”