Callum Davidson feels it will take a “monumental effort” from his St Johnstone side to win the Scottish Cup following their Covid crisis.
Davidson got his squad back together for a training session on Wednesday after eight players were affected.
But as he arrived at work on Thursday, he was still waiting for the latest coronavirus test results to come back and his team selection for Saturday’s Hampden clash against Hibernian was still up in the air.
The Saints boss will take one final look at his players in training on Friday before one of the most difficult team selections he will face.
“We will know more on Friday who is available and who is not going to be available,” Davidson said.
“The latest round of testing came back negative but since the last Hibs game (on May 1) we have probably only done one or two proper training sessions.
“It’s a hard situation but I know the lads who are fit and available are raring to go. The ones who are maybe not as fit and available say they are raring to go as well. It’s going to be a difficult team selection. It will only be the right one if we win it, I suppose.
“I had a laugh and joke about it, it’s not something they teach on the Pro Licence, how to deal with guys who were isolating for 10 days, having Covid, coming back different times and not being able to train, all of these things when you are probably preparing for the biggest game of your life, definitely your season.
“It’s not ideal. It’s going to take a monumental effort from everybody involved to go and get a result on Saturday.”
Davidson is unsure of any lingering effects for those who contracted the virus.
“We managed to train on Wednesday, just feeding four or five of them back in to see how they were,” he said.
“Our normal working week is a Thursday off so I don’t want to change that. They will come back Friday and see how they react to Wednesday’s training and we will have a look at their sharpness and make a decision after that.
“It’s not great for a professional athlete to do nothing in their house for 10 days. I need to assess their physical condition and where they are mentally as well.
“Every person is probably different. It’s the sharpness more than anything and whether fatigue sets in.
“We only have three subs. I was against the five subs at the start of the season but I wouldn’t mind five subs on Saturday.”
The usual attempts to bind players even closer together before a cup final have been turned on their head – Saints are trying to keep their players apart as much as possible other than time spent on the training pitch.
But Davidson hopes there is a silver lining in that his Betfred Cup winners are not overawed by what is at stake.
“The fact we have not been in, we haven’t had a chance to have a discussion about it,” he said. “With that focus on trying to finish fifth in the league, once we have done that, the first two or three days is all about making sure everybody is testing negative. That’s been the focus.
“It actually might be a good thing. We obviously know it’s a huge game. We have nothing to lose really, probably nobody really expects us to win.
“We’ve already won a cup and finished fifth so probably achieved the highest possible goal we could have this season. If we add another cup to that it would just be extraordinary.”