Peterhead manager Jim McInally is concerned players’ welfare is being cast aside as the SPFL prepares to resume action in Leagues One and Two in two weeks’ time.
Following the decision by the Scottish government to allow matches in the bottom two divisions to continue earlier this week, clubs yesterday announced their intention to resume playing on March 20.
McInally fears the impact a quick return after more than two months of not playing will affect players hard.
He said: “We haven’t any choice, we just have to get on with, but the biggest concern for me is how this is going to affect players.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it, Dr John MacLean, the SFA’s chief medical consultant, said last year we need four to six weeks after such a long layoff to get players up to speed again, but it looks to me like he has not had any input into this.
“It’s a no-brainer that we’re going to be dealing with a lot of muscle injuries due to this timescale. I hope everyone will be okay, but for starters no team will be match fit for the first two or three games.”
With the break in play ensuring the leagues cannot complete a 27-game season, talks are under way on altering the campaign. The SPFL favour an 18-match term, but the clubs’ preference is for a 22-game season with the final four matches played after a split.
Whatever the outcome, the fact Peterhead’s last game was at Cove Rangers on January 2 has left McInally facing the prospect of having to implement squad rotation at Balmoor to give his squad the best chance of avoiding muscle injuries.
He said: “I’ve never been one for rotating players, but I’ll have no choice this time. We have to look after our players as best as we can and it is going to mean having to leave boys out just to be sure they don’t pull a muscle in a game.
“Stuart Hogg, our fitness coach, has a wealth of experience. He has worked at Olympic level and he cannot believe the situation players are going to be pushed into here.
“He says he’ll deal with it as best as he can, but I’d be lying if I said we’re not fearing the worst.”
The Blue Toon begin their preparations for their return next week after a round of testing this weekend and, while understanding of the testing requirement which has been imposed as a condition of allowing lower league football to return, McInally is exasperated at football being held to a higher standard than the public sector.
He said: “Our players will be tested on Saturday and we’ll have the results back in time for our first training session on Tuesday and tests will happen every week from there.
“I still find it frustrating that lateral testing is okay for teachers, the NHS and the Armed Forces, but PCR testing must be used by football clubs.
“If it is good enough for nurses and teachers, who are working on the frontline, then I don’t see why it is not good enough for football.”