Nick Pope is delighted to be back at work and hopes a return to training marks a key stage in the plan to complete the Premier League season.
Pope and his Clarets’ team-mates returned to the Barnfield training centre on Tuesday following a two-month absence brought about the Covid-19 pandemic.
All the tests carried out on the Burnley players came back negative – assistant manager Ian Woan the only one of the staff unable to participate – allowing them to train in small groups on separate pitches in accordance with the protocols laid down by the government and Premier League.
And Pope hopes things will progress smoothly from here to allow a resumption of the campaign – which has provisionally been pencilled in for some time in June if deemed safe to go ahead.
“It’s been such a long time,” said the Burnley and England goalkeeper.
“It was strange to be off and then you kind of got used to being off the longer it went on.
“Now we’re chomping at the bit to be back in training and looking forward to playing again.
“It looks like it’s kind of the first steps yesterday to maybe return to the games, so nice first steps to take.
“It’s something I think everyone is willing to do. Everyone wants the same goal. Everyone wants to get back out there playing and that’s is what’s required at this stage.
“I think it’s very much a stepping stone to getting back to playing games.”
It is still to be determined where Burnley’s remaining nine games will be played – either home or away or at neutral venues.
But they will certainly be played behind closed doors, something Pope accepts will be strange but manageable after top-level football resumed in Germany is similar circumstances.
“The Bundesliga set an example at the weekend and had a full run of fixtures,” Pope told Clarets Player HD.
“It’s proven as a model that can work, so let’s hope this is our first step to getting towards that and playing properly again.
“It’s that option or not playing at all. That’s the way it has to be for the safety of everyone and I think everyone accepts that and is willing to move forward.”
Adhering to the strict guidelines in place for a training return, the Clarets squad drove to Barnfield individually with designated parking spaces two metres apart near the pitches they were using.
And with no changing facilities open, Pope admitted it had been a throwback to earlier in his career.
“We travel in kit and it was pretty much like Sunday league – straight out of your car, put your boots on and go and play – or like a kid when you used to turn up at a tournament on a Sunday in your kit and then afterwards put your boots in the boot and straight back in the car – good memories,” added the 28-year-old, whose spell at Bury Town a decade ago propelled him back into the professional game.
“Barnfield is so big. One group was so far away some of them were across the bridge, so I didn’t know if they turned up or not!
“It was good to see some of the lads and everyone smiling at the situation and the fact that you’re not seeing each other but kind of seeing each other.
“It was a strange one but good to see the goallies and have a catch-up with them and get a session in.”
Nick will be special half-time guest on the Clarets' interactive fun quiz available on our YouTube channel on Wednesday night. For details click HERE