Amer Didic has no problem being the last across the return-to-training finish line, save for a case of FOMO.
The star defender was ecstatic to learn of the club being allowed to return to the training pitch this week after the COVID-19 pandemic left FC Edmonton sidelined for nearly three months.
FCE, who received the go-ahead from provincial and municipal health authorities late Wednesday, were the eighth and final CPL club to get a green light to resume training. HFX Wanderers FC and Pacific FC both began training last Monday, with York9 FC, Atlético Ottawa, and Valour FC joining them later in the week. Cavalry FC and Forge FC returned to the pitch on Monday.
“In terms of being on the backburner, getting a late start, we’re not concerned about that at all,” Didic told CanPL.ca. “Fans, if you’re angry, don’t worry. It’s not a big deal. We’ll be more than competitive from our point of view. We’ve been putting in the work off the pitch.
“It (was painful) playing the waiting game. We’re the last ones, looking at all these videos and photos of teams training.”
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The Eddies held a team walkthrough Wednesday, preparing players for the CPL’s training protocols. FC Edmonton — like all other CPL sides — will be taking a multi-phase approach to returning, beginning with individual or small-group workouts, which will ensure that a secure, sanitary environment can be maintained, and physical distancing measures can be followed by players and staff.
“Honestly, I stepped on the field, looked back at (assistant coach) Sean Fleming, I yelled out a big ‘finally’,” Didic said. “The precautions are our primary goal. If we don’t hammer them out, all of this doesn’t happen.”
FCE will formally return to training Thursday at Clarke Stadium.
Didic had been keeping a close eye on other CPL clubs returning to training, reaching out to former teammates about what to expect from the four-player-per-field, social-distanced setup.
“You wonder about what the atmosphere is like, especially training on your own like that,” Didic admitted. “But I had heard it was surprisingly really good and guys are loving it.
“It’s been a long time. There’s just that excitement – no other expression really defines it.”
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Didic is looking to keep his momentum going.
On trial with MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps this off-season, Didic was a late cut by Marc Dos Santos, eventually returning to Edmonton by March. Didic also made his Canadian men’s team debut – and scored his first goal for the senior side – in a January friendly against Barbados.
Even with a particularly busy off-season, the 25-year-old is still excited to return and cure his case of FOMO once and for all.
“This is our job, man,” Didic began.
“For anyone to have that big of an absence from their job… it just brings a pure, raw emotion of excitement.
“And we know, at the end of the day, it’s individual training when we get back, too – still no team training. But now it’s about kicking a ball and getting comfortable with the ball at your feet again.
“It’s long overdue.”