“It was a long time off, which is unusual as a footballer or being involved in football,” said head of first-team development Nicky Butt.
“You don’t get that much time off so you could feel a bit lost. But the support staff, people like Nick Cox, Dave Bushell, Tony Whelan, Andy Jordan, Steve Higham. All the people were doing unbelievable things to try to get the boys engaged in other sides of football and keep them busy.
“It was very hard for any youngster, and older people, in lockdown as well, to keep sane but especially with young people, to keep going and keep the mindset and focus that it was going to be six to nine months. It was difficult for the club but the support staff did an excellent job.
“I think what we do very well as a club is the support staff look after the players as human beings really, first and foremost. Younger people have ups and downs, still to this day now, and we’ve done an amazing job and it’s something we’re all very proud of. Now we’re back on the grass, the older age-groups anyway, and you can see the kids are eager to get going again. We have to abide by the rules with the medical side, which we are doing, but it can be difficult at times. It’s a joint-effort by everyone at the club and the setting up of the training ground has been amazing and a really big team effort.”