The Hibernian captain has been frustrated by the timing of the coronavirus shutdown, given that a tough season dogged by a niggling knee injury and an untimely virus had finally picked up, the 31-year-old confident he was finally in the shape to play a role as the campaign reached a climax. But, unsure when he will be called back into action, he is determined to keep his body ticking over.
“I made the decision that I needed to get fitter if I wanted to contribute so I did a lot of work with the fantastic strength and conditioning coach, the physios as well, and I wasn’t far away from coming back when it all shut down,” he said. “So it’s a bit frustrating on that front. But there’s more important things in the world than what we’re going through as footballers.”
Collectively and individually the Hibs players and staff have found ways to adapt, a group chat proving useful.
“The dietician has been really good in putting forward healthy eating options, even things you can make with your kids to get everybody involved and the strength and conditioning folk have been sending quick and easy workouts that, again, everybody can get involved in,” Gray added.
“It’s challenging for football players not training but, at the same time, my missus can’t get out and about, the kids are all here – it’s challenging for everybody.”
Exercise has been a way of clinging to normality and, at times sanity, admits the dad of three.
“With three kids aged six and under, plus my missus all cooped up under the same roof, it can be challenging, to say the least! But it’s nice to spend time with them, too, because it gives me the opportunity to do things with them that I normally don’t get the chance to do.
“We’ve had ‘PE With Joe’ [Wicks] on in the morning. My six-year-old did it for two mornings but then she was too tired. She’s slacking, I think!
“But managing to stay fit is an interesting question for me – it’s been something I’ve been struggling with for a wee while. The timing of this break wasn’t ideal for anyone but I was actually at a level where I felt I could come back in and be competitive again so I’m trying to stay on top of it as much as I possibly can.
“Obviously, you are allowed to go out for a run. So I’m trying to wait until a point in the day when the kids are pushing me, let’s just say, and I can get out and have a bit of a release in running.
“I’ve also got a few bits of equipment in the house. I want to keep my fitness up as much as possible, because we’ve no idea when we’ll be back.”
The financial implications of that uncertainty are proving stark. Hearts, Dumbarton, Elgin City and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have already introduced cuts and Hibs owner Ron Gordon warned that while the Leith club are “better positioned than most to weather the storm”, they are “far from immune”.
“The obvious conclusion is that teams are going to struggle,” said Gray. “That’s inevitable when there is no cash coming in. With wages still to be paid, clubs are going to struggle. But, the important thing is that we manage to keep hold of every team. Hopefully everybody will do everything they can to make sure every club survives.”
• David Gray was speaking as Hibernian launched season tickets for next season. Find out more at seasontickets.hibernianfc.org.uk