‘One down your throat, two up your nostrils, then away you go’ – Ash Taylor today described the new normal for training in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aberdeen returned to socially distanced training on Monday as the squad begin work towards the SPFL’s targeted return date for the Premiership of August 1.
As part of stringent safety measures laid down by the SPFL and SFA Joint Response Group in collaboration with the Scottish Government, players and staff must undergo two Covid-19 tests per week.
Aberdeen have installed a testing machine at the club’s Cormack Park training facility to ensure regular and rapid testing.
The first tests on players and staff were done on Sunday.
All results came back negative.
Regular testing is just one of a number of strict measures in place at the club’s £13m training facility to ensure safety of players and staff.
On the testing, centre-back Taylor said: “It’s been alright.
“They put one down your throat and two up your nostrils, then away you go and you wait to see your results.
It’s been pretty straightforward and the club have done a good job of putting things in place for us. It’s been a smooth process for us.
“We got tested on Sunday and got the results and everybody was fine, which was good.”
Before entering Cormack Park players and staff all undergo temperature checks.
Monday marked the first time Aberdeen had trained together since Scottish football was suspended at all levels on March 13 due to the coronavirus outbreak
However, players are still being kept apart as the Dons are only permitted eight players on a pitch at any one time. Two players work per quarter of a pitch.
Taylor said: “We just pull up in our cars, wait until we get our temperature checked and if that’s all clear, you go to the car park and you wait until you’re called over by one of the coaching staff.
“You head over, sterilise yourself before you head in then start your training.
“It’s socially distanced in twos in a quarter of the pitch.
“That’s the guidelines we’ve been given.
“You’re never close to anyone really and you’ve to shout to one another.
“The training has been good in terms of keeping boys away from one another, but in a distance where you can communicate with things you need to.
“You exit through a different gate and sterilise yourself on the way out.
“Then you’re straight in the car and away home.
“They’ve put things in place in terms of protein shakes and a protein bar for something straight after to help with the travel back home to get your lunch and shower.”
For 13 weeks, Aberdeen players had to train on their own due to social distancing measures during the lockdown.
Taylor said: “When this happened I converted my garage into a gym. I had the watt bike and full kit for the gym.
“I kept myself ticking over and got the watt bike to take the load off from all the running as you don’t want to pound the body.
“We do that all season anyway.
“I carried on with my strength training too as I wanted to come back in reasonably good shape and hit the ground running.
“We were in a situation where we didn’t know whether we would come back and finish the season, so it was important to keep ourselves ticking over.”
Taylor insists his team-mates also kept themselves fit in the 13 weeks away from Cormack Park.
Now that they have been reunited, the focus will be on ball work and regaining sharpness.
He said: “The sports scientists, coaching staff and physios have put stuff in place so we’re ready to train at a proper intensity.
“They’re easing us into at the minute. It’s not proper, full on intensity.
“We’ve been off from football for 13 weeks, which is a long time as normally we just get four.
“So you don’t want to come back and start getting niggles and injuries. Monday was kind of about getting ourselves going, getting the legs going and getting into a routine again. Tuesday was a bit more of that.
“It’s gradual, but the intensity is still there. It’s about getting our movements with the ball.
“Aerobically, the boys have been keeping themselves in good condition. It’s just about getting the ball and getting used to the movements in your position.”