SALZBURG, Austria: Salzburg defender Max Woeber said that fitness exercises at home were getting on the players' nerves as the Austrian champions re-started training on Tuesday while observing social distancing guidelines.
Austria has become one of the first countries in Europe to loosen a lockdown imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and professional teams have been given the green light to start training in preparation for the resumption of the league.
However, squads have to be split into groups of six and players must remain two metres apart while handshakes and hugs are banned.
"It was of course a great feeling to see the lads again, even if we had to keep two metres apart, just to talk again, have a chat, see how everyone is doing," Woeber told an online news conference. "All of us have missed football."
Asked if he missed staying at home, Woeber said: "I think it was getting massively on all of our nerves, and we gave our fitness trainer a hard time.
"But it of course was necessary, we had to stay fit and get fit again, we have big goals ahead and need to be as best prepared as possible."
He added: "It's strange when you're not allowed to celebrate together or be happy together when you get a goal, or when something funny happens."
Coach Jesse Marsch conceded that it was an unusual practice.
"We have to be a bit creative in this situation but the players have so much energy it is working really well for us," said the U.S. coach, whose side are second in the Austrian Bundesliga.
"You can talk about tactics technically, but it isn't easy when you have no opposition or when you have to keep this distance."
The club's sporting director Christoph Freund said there were still unanswered questions about playing again, particularly with regards to medical guidelines.
"It is important to take the next steps together with the other teams and with the league and to set up working groups," he said.
"We need a good concept to be able to play these games in the future. It could be that the virus accompanies us for a long while and we will have to live with this situation and will have to find a way to bring as much normality to the situation as possible."
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)