Preston North End centre forward Jayden Stockley admits that after six weeks without football he is ‘itching to get back’ and looking forward to a return to action when safe to do so.
The Lilywhites’ No.20 has enjoyed time at home with his young family in his Preston home, but certainly understands the importance of sport in certain peoples’ lives.
“I feel like I have never taken my job for granted and realise what a lucky situation I am in, but you do sit back and get a sense that you are doing what you are put here for,” he told the official website.
“It is something that drives you through the week – you know you have a match to go and win and my love for the sport is there. I have a lot of things that I love doing, with other hobbies or the family, but you do sit back and think ‘I wish I was heading to training in the morning’.
“The best moments are after a game when you get into the changing rooms after a win, or the coffees with the boys and other things we do as team bonding and you sit back and think – especially with where we are in the league – we are having a real go at this, this season, so we are itching to get back.
“Because the season is so finely poised, it has given us that extra motivation to get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible.
“And I am sure that is the same with the other boys, as we seem to have such a professional bunch here and we realise what a big chance we have got, so to come back fit in the best situation we can do fitness wise will be big.
“There are nine games left and momentum is going to be huge, so whoever can pick that up the fastest will be important. There were a few poor results for us just before it, so it is a completely different scenario now, a lot of players will be back fit and it is a chance to start again and we started the season brilliantly this year and hopefully we can replicate this as a mini-season.
“You have to be firing straight away and momentum will be massive.”
So how has he found the lockdown period? “The Stockley family is doing really well,” he continued. “We stopped up here and we have done some really nice stuff. We have been in the garden lots – thankfully the weather has been pretty much kind to us – and we have been on some really nice walks.
“At the moment, day by day, it has been getting tougher, but it has been an enjoyable time, frustrating at the same time, but we have had some really nice moments.”
The lack of a definitive return to training date meant it was difficult to plan for the players and manager at the start of the government lockdown, but the 26-year-old says he has stepped up his work in recent weeks.
“At the start we didn’t have a clue [when a return would be]. We got to that stage where we thought ‘we have a holiday now’, but we quickly realised that it wasn’t, so I did quite a lot those first ten days and then we got the message to say it was a lot longer, so we had to relax to make sure that we didn’t burn ourselves out, but now we are getting to the time where we have to increase what we are doing, so that when we do come back it is not like a normal pre-season where you don’t have much of a base, we have to come back and pretty much pick up where we left off so we can pick up as much tactical information and get the footballs out straight away.
“You are just waiting for the information on our league and it is a unique prospect of coming back and doing a second pre-season, but I am looking forward to that information being released and learning a bit more about it.
“We know [football] is not the most important thing in the world and a lot of us have realised that and we see the bigger picture, but for a lot of people it provides relief.
“It is their life, it is their entertainment and it affects whether they are in a good mood or a bad mood on a day; it is something to look forward to, to be hopeful for and it is exactly the same for us.
“It is one of our purposes in life and we do all we can to succeed and you only have a short time doing it. It is something I miss incredibly and it is something football people miss, because it just fits into their life every week and it is the same for them as it is for us. It is the same for our families, who are used to that routine, so it has knocked everyone out of sync a little bit.”
And despite that work and family time, the Poole-born striker admits he has turned to all sorts to get his sport fix: “People need that little pick me up. I watched the 1999 European Cup semi-final the other day and I was buzzing for it.
“I have been watching old cricket world cups and I even found myself watching Formula 1 the other day, which was a dark day in the Stockley household!
“It is so strange that want for some competitive sport and whether it is behind closed doors or not, I think everyone will take what they are offered at this point,” he added.