Jim McInally is sick of sitting idle at weekends but the Peterhead manager is far from convinced an end to his wait to be back in the dugout is in sight.
Two months to the day his side last played, an olive branch has been offered by the Scottish government to lower league clubs about a possible return to competitive action, but McInally believes several clubs will need to be convinced it is in their interests for their players to lace up the boots and get back out on the football pitch.
He said: “Selfishly, I’d love nothing more than to be back in the dugout as all these weekends off have been driving me mad and I know many players will be desperate to get back playing again too.
“But I also know of several clubs not keen to start up again this season, while the rumours of the season being reduced to 18 matches will have very little support from the people I’ve spoken to in the game if that is put before clubs.
“It is encouraging that we’re at a point where this is being talked about, but we need to see what information is relayed back to the clubs to thrash out before I’ll get my hopes up. I believe there is a long way to go before we’re back playing.”
McInally has rarely been shy to give his thoughts on Scottish football and he has been critical of what he believes has been an unnecessary break in play for two months.
Yesterday’s announcement that clubs will only be permitted to return if they commit to testing players for Covid on a weekly basis has done little to change his mind.
He said: “If they are going to be strict on the testing requirement and players having to travel in cars separately then I can see that being an issue for many part-time clubs and I’d also be asking why has it taken two months to decide that was what was stopping us from continuing to play out the season?
“Surely that rule could have been put in place back in January rather than waiting two months?
“The fine details are going to be key here. If there are a lot of obstacles put in our way and it is going to lead to clubs paying out £2,000 a week for testing then I’m not sure it is feasible when fans are not able to watch matches.
“How are we supposed to test guys who work in full-time jobs where they are interacting with other people? It would be pointless and little more than a box ticking exercise. It just doesn’t work at out level.”
The Blue Toon boss’ desire to be back at work has been tempered by the need to look after the welfare of his players and he is eager to see what timeframe is being proposed. He is clear on what the minimum time to prepare should be, however.
He said: “I remember Dr John MacLean, the SFA’s chief medical consultant, before we started the season saying clubs would need four to six weeks to get their players up to speed for the new season and I honestly believe we’re right back at that point.
“Our last game was against Cove on January 2. You cannot tell clubs their players cannot train together and then expect them to go straight back in cold after such a long break.”