O’Keefe outlines his routine
O’Keefe outlines his routine

Its not just the fans who are frustrated with the lack of football due to the current climate our professional players still don’t know if or how their season will come to an end. KSN spoke with Stuart O’Keefe to get a players perspective.

Gillingham midfielder Stuart O’Keefe has been talking to KSN about keeping active and what he thinks might happen next.

“It’s tough as it’s such a strange time at the moment,” he told us. 

“Obviously, footballers fall into the ‘in-between’ stage – where are we heading with the season?  What’s going to happen? When will we start training again? So there are a lot of unanswered questions, and it’s a tough time for everyone at the club but all we can do is to take care of ourselves, listen to the governments and the club’s advice.

“All of us have to manage to do as much as we can at home within the guidelines which is what we’re all doing. We’ve all got our own fitness plans and we’ll stick to them the best we can.

“We’ve been given the usual stuff and we have certain targets to hit in a week leading up to a match in relation to total distance to cover and gym sessions. We get monitored and have to report back to the fitness guys at the club every day on it and everyone’s been pretty good with it up to now”.

In spite of the players keeping up with their fitness. O’Keefe acknowledges that players like fans are wondering if and when the season will start.

He said, “I am a little bit surprised, as a footballer you’re always focused and know what you’re working towards be it a match-day or a pre-season or the end of a season. You always know where you’re going but at the moment no-one knows where we’re going. We don’t really know where we’re heading and when we’re going to be heading there.

“It has taken everyone by surprise and we all want to get the date so that we can put it in the diary to get our minds toward getting fit and ready but obviously football takes a back seat at the moment. We all understand that people’s health and welfare comes above and beyond all of that. We have to do it right as it comes from the government.  We’ve got to make sure we’re healthy and we look after our families. It is frustrating but it’s unprecedented times so we’ve just got to get on with things and deal with it.

“We can’t just turn things on (when we do get the go ahead) and off like a switch as there will be a greater risk of injury. When we do go back first and foremost it needs to be safe for everyone to do so and make sure every player is happy to do that as everyone’s situation is different. We’ve got to make sure that it’s perfectly safe to play football and once it’s obviously agreed then we need to make a date that is feasible so the boys can get fit and be free of injury.

“Our last game was at Sunderland and we finished on such a high getting a point in the 96th minute. We were preparing to play the game the following weekend to get a win and have a right go heading into the last eight games with the momentum that we’d built up. We’ve got a very professional set of boys and coaching staff that will be making sure that when we do go back, we’ll be ready to do it again. The Gaffer’s been as good as gold and he’s staying in contact with the boys as much as he can. We report back to him and the coaches with regards to doing our work and he understands that its frustrating times but he also understands that it’s important times. Hes got family and loved ones and we need to make sure that them and ourselves are okay in this difficult times”.

In a final message to the Gills faithful O’Keefe was keen to stress the same for everyone, “stay healthy, look after yourselves, take things very seriously and stay at home as it does save lives. Help the NHS out as they save lives doing a fantastic job and we should always help them the best we can, and we’ll get through this together and hopefully sooner rather than later we can all be back at Priestfield having a push towards the end of the season getting some more points making everyone happy again”.