St Mirren skipper Sam Foley fears he might not see keeper Vaclav Hladky back in a Saints kit if the coronavirus shutdown continues into the summer.
The Czech stopper has been given permission by Buddies boss Jim Goodwin to return home and wait out the pandemic.
But with the 29-year-old’s contract set to expire in June, midfielder Foley is worried Hladky might not return if domestic action remains on hold.
Hladky has been a vital figure between the posts for Saints and Foley knows his team-mate will not be short on suitors.
He told the PA news agency: “Obviously the situation is totally unprecedented. We might not be back playing until guys like Vaclav are out of contract which is a worry.
“He’s had an unbelievable season and he is an unbelievable goalkeeper.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he will end up playing at a much higher level than the Scottish Premiership. It’s only a matter of time.
“It’s not just Vaclav, there are a lot of other guys whose contacts expire and it’s a shame if we don’t get to see them again in a St Mirren kit.
“We won’t get the chance to shake anyone’s hands and say a proper goodbye – this is going to be the end for them at the club.
“I’ve relied on Vaclav so much. I’ve had to drop into centre-back at times this season, something that’s totally alien to me, knowing I have him behind me gives me so much confidence while I try to bluff my way through.
“It’s a tricky one now because what does happen next? No one knows.
“The whole football industry has frozen – the only thing that hasn’t is contracts and we don’t have much of an idea of what’s happening. It’s concerning.”
Foley has headed back to his family home in Crewe to spend the lockdown with his partner Samantha and their two young daughters.
The 33-year-old has plenty of time on his hands but that is not a new situation for the former Newport, Yeovil and Port Vale battler as he was released by Northampton last summer.
But while he is sure he will have no problem getting back down to business once the virus threat eases, he does worry Saints’ Ladbrokes Premiership survival fight will suffer a dip if they cannot rediscover the momentum that has recently taken them up to ninth place.
He said: “It’s strange. It feels like the season’s ended. The sun’s out, I’ve cut the the grass, washed the car and hoovered every carpet in sight.
“I’m running out of things to do.
“Before I joined St Mirren last summer, I didn’t have a club for four weeks of the pre-season and only joined Saints late on.
“I had been training with my local club Port Vale but I had eight or 10 weeks off so it’s not a totally alien situation.
“One we’re back in with games to prepare for it will be a lot easier to focus the mind.
“We’ve managed to build a bit of momentum since January and results have picked up.
“We got a massive result against Hearts which was obviously our last game but the worry is it will be hard to reinstall that momentum as it has literally been halted.
“But there are lots of positives and if we can use this break to get everyone back together and fit then we can hopefully build on the foundations we’ve put down.”
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