IT'S been nearly three weeks since I was last out on the grass at Staplewood with the other keepers and Sparkesy, the first team goalkeeper coach.

Monday 16th March was the final day we trained together; since then things have become a little different. 

I remember that day well, actually. The game against Norwich had been cancelled the previous weekend and there was a feeling around the training ground that it could be our last day as a group for a while, especially as there was talk of a COBRA meeting happening at government level. 

I recall tuning in to watch the Prime Minister’s national update that afternoon and thinking that this would change things. As I expected, we got the news not long after via WhatsApp that we would be training from home moving forwards.

At the time, that seemed a strange proposition. I’ve been around the game for a while and seen a few things but nothing like this. The only time we’d ever train from home, in normal circumstances, would be in certain injury situations or during the summer to keep the body ticking over.

We immediately received training plans from the sports science guys, specific equipment was delivered to our homes and Sparkesy talked me through specific exercises to be getting on with from a goalkeeping perspective.

To give you a bit of an idea, during a normal training session, Sparkesy will put us through our paces with a range of reflex, reaction time, positioning and handling exercises. It’s only after these exercises that we are integrated into small-sided games or drills with the rest of the lads.

Daily Echo: Saints' goalkeeping contingent (L-R) coach Andrew Sparkes, Harry Lewis, Alex McCarthy, Angus Gunn (Pic: Southampton FC/Matt Watson)Saints' goalkeeping contingent (L-R) coach Andrew Sparkes, Harry Lewis, Alex McCarthy, Angus Gunn (Pic: Southampton FC/Matt Watson)

I guess it’s the same for the outfield boys but we rely a lot on the technical drills we do to keep us sharp.

For the past three weeks, it’s been a brave new world. There is no way we will ever be able to replicate the specific exercises we do together so we have to make the best of what we can do.

Fitness-wise, we can definitely keep the wheels in motion and the sports science guys have been great in checking in with us on the phone every day and setting us different challenges.

We’ve been doing stints on the resistance bike, spells on the running machine, some weights-based drills and quite a bit of callisthenics work (only relying on our body weight to work muscle groups).

These definitely don’t count as part of my sports science plan but I’ve also been doing the Joe Wicks workouts with my daughter, Baylie, who has been loving the morning videos. 

You may have seen on my Instagram page, but in case you haven’t, she has been getting involved with a lot of my fitness routines. She’s enjoying me being home all the time and I think she’s intrigued by all the different exercises. 

In terms of keeper-specific work, Sparkesy has set us a range of different drills to keep us working on our reaction times and diving movements. Technology is so good that we are able to video link and do these together while he keeps an eye on us. 

Ball work is the really tricky part but I’m ensuring I incorporate a ball where I can, even if they are just simple ball control and ball striking exercises to keep that feel and touch.

We tend to train for the same amount of time (anywhere between 60-120 minutes – depending on the workload required for the training plan).

I can’t lie, it has taken some getting used to as I like being at the training ground and around the other guys on the grass but the longer this situation goes on, the more normal it is starting to become.

I think we are definitely coping as best we can to maintain our fitness levels and keep our position-specific work up as much as possible but we will undoubtedly need a few weeks or maybe longer to get ready for when matches resume.

I hope you all have a good weekend, stay safe, and I’ll be back soon with my latest notebook.