Though football in England is edging slowly towards a restart, plans for a return to action are already well underway in Denmark.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been more than two months since the SuperLiga was suspended but green light has been given for it to restart on May 28, with all remaining fixtures to be played behind closed doors.

That means a return to football is less than two weeks away for Vito Mannone, the former keeper of the Arsenal and Sunderland who is currently on loan with Esbjerg fB from Championship club Reading.

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But the 32-year-old is well aware that it will be a very different experience when he starts playing again than he was used to during a 14-year professional career.

And the one thing that he dreads more than most? Games are played in vacant stadiums.

“We played one game without fans until we stopped and it was really weird,” Mannone tells Goal. “It is something that I do not like.”

The Italian keeper adds: “It’s completely different, without fans. You’ve got to plan for the game differently, you gotta drive yourself even more. It makes staying focused on the pitch and encouraging yourself, harder.”

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Mannone joined Esbjerg for the rest of the season in January and made four appearances to a halt before SuperLiga ground.

During the lockdown he and his wife lived in Denmark, with the Scandinavian nation dealing with the pandemic fairly well in contrast to other European countries.

Now beginning to ease lockout measures, Mannone and his team-mates are back in training as preparations for the resumption of the league season continue to step up.

The training was initially conducted in small groups but now all work together and communication is permitted again.

Yet there are still no buildings available on-site, ensuring players are changing into their training clothes, finishing the workout, and then going straight home to wash their kit before doing it all over again the next day.

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