After 72 days, the wait was over for the Rovers players.

Training had resumed, though not quite as they knew it. There was no breakfast in the canteen area, no music blaring in the indoor gym, no opportunity for a game of Teqball or table tennis, no socialising in large groups.

There was even a change of venue, the Academy centre at Brockhall, rather than their usual home at the Senior Training Centre.

But it was a chance to put the boots back on, dust off the training kit, and return to some form of normality, or ‘the new normal’.

While Tony Mowbray said the club would “listen sympathetically” to any concerns players had about returning to training, the whole squad are always understood to have been keen to return as quickly as possible. That opportunity came after the 27 players and 17 members of staff all recorded negative Covid-19 tests on Friday.

They will continue, twice-weekly, to provide the safest possible environment ahead of a possible resumption of the season next month.

For Ryan Nyambe, fitness certainly won’t be a problem, as he admitted: “I’ve been trying to stick to a normal routine of how we would train when football was on.

“So I keep the same daily routine, rest on the same day and then do a bigger session on a Saturday, just to replicate a matchday.

“When you’re out there, you’re mostly doing running, you’re not doing much ball work, so it’s completely different to what you’re used to.

“You miss the camaraderie with the boys, the connection, the banter and just football itself and the adrenaline rush you get when you’re playing games.

“You don’t realise how much you miss it until you don’t have it. It’s a major thing to our lives. It is our life in fact, so once that’s taken away from us, you don’t know what to do with yourself.”

When the season was initially suspended on March 13 it was hoped games could return on April 3.

That was then pushed back to May 2, and then again indefinitely. A possible return to training date of May 16 came and went, before the EFL gave the green light, once negative tests had been confirmed, for clubs to train again, albeit under strict guidelines. For Joe Rothwell, it’s been a long wait.

“Since all this started, we seemed to be getting a new start date every week,” he said.

“It was just getting pushed back and pushed back, but getting the confirmation that Monday was the day, I was delighted to get back.

“It’s nice to be able to kick a ball. We’ve done all the sessions that we’ve been prescribed running-wise, but we’ve not really had much chance to kick a ball, so I think this first week it’ll be nice just to be able to pass a ball and to see some different faces.”

The club took the opportunity to give the players three weeks off after the second suspension of the season, having previously assigned individual training programmes to the squad. They were drawn up by head of athletic performance Chris Rush who has been working closely with the manager to ensure the players can hit the ground running.

Rovers are expected to have around three to four weeks of training before the possibility of resuming action, albeit behind closed doors, as the Championship looks to complete the remaining 108 fixtures.

Defeat to Derby County in their last outing on March 8 saw Rovers miss the opportunity to climb in to the top six for the first time this season, but sitting three points off with nine games to go, Rothwell believes there is plenty left to play for.

“I think we’ve all got something to strive for and we’ll all come back a little bit hungrier, hoping we can make that top six,” he told the club website.

“We’re in a position where we’re still fighting for that top six, we’re only three points outside it, we’ve still got plenty of games to go and we’ve got a great chance of getting in there, so we’ve got to come back with a positive mindset that we are going to make that top six.”

Bradley Johnson has used his time during the lockdown to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to care homes and other organisations that were in need, as part of fundraising efforts alongside friend and former footballer Dexter Blackstock.

Despite the positivity that surrounds the return to training, the strict guidelines that have be adhered to, not leasing social distancing, mean it will be a far cry from the sessions that players are used to.

A number of Premier League players have outlined concerns over the restart of the game while the pandemic goes on, something Johnson can fully understand.

The 33-year-old said: “It’s all positive, but then in the back of your mind, everyone is still nervous.

“Everyone wants to get back to what we love doing and that’s playing football and football matches, but we know the risk that there is out there.

“You just have to look at the German league when they tried to go back, they had cases every week and players were testing positive, so we want to get back, but we want it to be right for us and our families.

“We want to get back out there playing, but we want it to be safe first and then go from there.”