FORMER Cork City captain Conor McCormack isn’t too optimistic that he will be back playing with Derry City in just under three months.
The League of Ireland is due to resume on June 19 but the Derry player says he would be surprised to be back in action on that date and that there is a possibility games could be played behind closed doors.
“With everything that is going on in the world at the moment, no one can be sure of what the future holds. It’s hard to pinpoint a date when this will all end. Of course, I’m training and getting into the mindset that the league will begin again on June 19 but saying that, it wouldn’t shock me if it was delayed further.
“Players would realistically have to be back in training with their clubs in the middle of May to get a few weeks training into them so that they will be ready for games and will reduce the risk of players getting injured.
“Is the country going to be back to normality in five or six weeks? I hope so, but I just don’t see that happening, although I believe the rules are that players only need to be back training with their clubs two weeks before the league recommences.
“Even if the league does resume when it is supposed to, after speaking to the PFAI (Player’s Football Association of Ireland), they believe that there is a strong possibility of the first few games being played behind closed doors and been streamed online.
“Everything is just a bit up in the air. With the league extending to the middle of December, what is that going to mean for players who might have committed to other jobs in November?
“We will just have to wait a few more weeks and see how everything goes before we get a much clearer indication of when the league will return.”
Derry have provided their players with training programmes but McCormack still finds it difficult to get into a routine without any real structure in place.
“When I’m training with the club, we train the same time every day which means I go to bed and get up the same time most days. Now, I find myself up until 2am and getting up close to midday.
“Derry have given us a four-day a week programme but there is no specific time in the day when we have to do it. It’s an excellent set-up they have designed for us because we took our GPS systems away with us and we upload and log our training sessions so we can see and the coaching staff can see, the work that is being done.
“It’s designed like a training week and geared for a match on Friday, so it should benefit us when we do return.”
There is more than the uncertainty of when players will be returning to their club but also if players will continue to receive their salary. Sligo Rovers and Cork City have already conceded they cannot keep paying their players.
“Of course these are testing times for all clubs. Some clubs have had to stop paying their players, where others have spread out players' payments and others will seek help from the government to make sure their players are paid.
“I’ve been told that League of Ireland clubs involved in Europe this season must keep paying their players if they want to be assured of being allowed play in Europe, whenever that may be. I’ve bills to pay, like most lads in the league, and to hear that news was a relief.”
Derry being involved in European football was one of the reasons McCormack opted to return to the club.
“When signing for Derry, playing in Europe was a massive attraction but it looks like I will have to be a bit more patient before playing in Europe again this season. With all that is going on, I’ve been told that hopefully by August, there will be European football in the Brandywell.”
After a successful spell on Leeside, it was a difficult decision for the 29-year-old to leave.
“It was tough to leave Cork. I just bought an apartment there and was looking to stay long-term but things just didn’t work out. I meet with the club numerous times in the off-season and was willing to take a pay-cut but we just couldn’t come to an agreement.
“I was sad to leave because I had great times there but I felt I had to move onto a new challenge.
“I had several other offers from other clubs but after meeting the manager (Declan Devine) and seeing how much the club has improved in terms of facilities since my previous spell with Derry, signing for the club was an easy decision.
“I just hope it’s not too long a wait before I can get the chance to be back playing for Derry again.”