Despite admitting he was left ‘very, very bored’ by Luton’s lack of match action over the Christmas period, captain Sonny Bradley was quick to point out player safety has to remain paramount during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Luton skipper had been one of the worst hit in the Town squad with the virus this season, missing the start of the campaign and revealing it left him bed-bound for two weeks, losing a stone in weight as well.
With Omicron cases on the rise in recent weeks, the Hatters saw their trip to Reading called off due to a Covid outbreak in the Royals squad before Christmas, while Nathan Jones’ side had to postpone games with Bristol City and Coventry City due to positives tests in their own squad, as they also didn’t travel to Swansea City either.
Speaking about the effects of the virus, Bradley said: “We’ve had almost a month off now, and players have had Covid, touch wood, I don’t think anyone has had it quite as bad as I did.
“A lot of people are talking about Covid at the minute, about players being fit and available returning from Covid, but when a player returns back to training after having Covid, it is not as simple as being available straight away.
“Everyone’s situation is different and from my point of view when I had it, it took me a good few weeks’ to build that fitness back up.
“If you get ahead of yourself, you’ve had Covid and you try to play a game after a couple of sessions, you are at real risk of causing an injury.
“I’ve been there and I’ve felt it. A lot of people are talking about the situation and it’s important.
“We’re talking about games being rescheduled as well, but let’s look at the safety of the players first of all, the staff and the fans, everyone involved because it is serious because we know people are dying from it.”
The postponements meant that for the first time in his career, Bradley spent the festive period without a game, something he found unusual to deal with and doesn’t want to happen again.
He continued: “I was very, very bored.
"It’s frustration, this time of year especially, myself and all the boys, we know what it’s about to play through the Christmas period.
“I’ve done it pretty much all through my career, so for four games to be called off, to be sat at home watching Soccer Saturday, it’s frustrating, it’s not nice.
“I was sat on the settee with my girlfriend and my little man and was watching it and it was just frustrating.
“I turned round to her and said ‘this is what it could be like when I’m finished, well I’m never going to finish, I’m just going to keep playing!’
“It was strange sat there watching the football, I’d much rather be playing, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option for us.”
When asked if he had a message for the Luton supporters who had been left twiddling their thumbs since the Hatters were last in action on December 11, Bradley said: “No message really, but just hang in there, just hang in there.
“It’s not long now, under a week now to we’re back playing, fingers crossed at Kenilworth Road.
“It’s not really anybody’s fault, it’s just the way the world is at the minute, the way the country is and unfortunately we’ve had to miss out on games.
“If you look at it on the positive side, it just means that now the games have been rearranged, we’re going to get loads of games in January, and maybe a couple more in February as well.
"If we can get past Harrogate, hopefully we’ll go on a good cup run as well.
“It’s been a frustrating few weeks with no football but moving forward we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
Although not playing for almost a month when the FA Cup contest against League Two side Harrogate Town rolls around this Sunday, Bradley felt in a good place, with his Luton team-mates who were able to train over Christmas still getting through plenty of work.
He said: “I think we’ve had maybe one or two extra days off, just to give the squad a little break from the training ground.
“But apart from that we’ve trained really well and when we’ve missed games, we’ve made up for that in our training.
“We just think it’s really important that when we return to action we are up to speed as if we’re not up to speed then one we’re at risk of losing games, and two there’s a real risk of injury.
“We’ve trained hard, we’ve had a bigger break than we would have liked, but we’ve trained hard.
“We’re getting there, a lot of bodies are returning, so hopefully when we play Harrogate, we’ve got a near enough full squad.”
One good thing for Bradley is that there will be fans present to watch the Hatters go up against their opponents at Kenilworth Road this weekend, unlike this time last year, when supporters weren't allowed to attend matches.
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson keen not to impose any further restrictions, the centre half added: "Things are changing so quick, from day to day in the country.
"In my belief, with the cases coming in, I think if they were going to shut football down for the fans, or shut football down entirely, I think they would’ve done it by now.
“From a players’ point of view, I’m feeling positive now that, from now until the end of the season, the fans will be in the grounds and they’ll be there in full capacity. "