THE coronavirus pandemic may have brought global football to a halt back in March, but Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin hasn't been complaining.
Having sustained a serious knee injury in January, the 35-year-old defender reckoned he had no chance of facing rivals Coleraine in the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi-Final.
But, after four months of lockdown and a sustained period of rehabilitation, the former Linfield man is again raring to go and is relishing the prospect of lining out against the Bannsiders at Windsor Park tomorrow afternoon.
"I injured my knee in late January against Glenavon," recalls Ervin. "I would have struggled to make the Semi-Final had it been played on its original date.
"But with the extended time out, I've managed to receive the proper treatment and thankfully I've made a full recovery. I'm fit and ready to go."
It means Ervin will be on a level footing with his team-mates in terms of fitness for this Semi-Final showdown.
He adds: "It's a strange scenario, going into such an important game on the back of a four-month lay-off. The only consolation is that all four Semi-Finalists are in exactly the same boat.
"It not ideal for any side, but everyone faces the same problems so no one can have any complaints.
"The four clubs are lucky they are coming back to play such a high-profile game. Since we've returned to training, everyone has reported back fighting fit."
The Sky Blues finished in a disappointing 10th place in the Premiership table, but Ervin believes they could still hit the jackpot with a big finish.
"We were disappointed the way the League panned out in terms of our position," he admits. "Especially after the season we had the previous year.
"After pushing Linfield all the way, perhaps expectation levels went through the roof to a certain extent. As a group, we struggled to match those expectations.
"We didn't do ourselves justice, but we have the chance to make amends and a chance of claiming a place in the Irish Cup Final.
"Everything is focused on this one game and we intend to give it everything."