Skuse on family health concerns; staying a Blue; a role beyond the pitch and why Ipswich is now 'home'
Cole Skuse says ‘it has to be safe’ before he will look at returning to play football amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Premier League players have taken the first tentative steps to resume the season by returning to training this week in small groups and with stringent measures in place.
The Championship is scheduled to follow next week while a decision on whether League One will continue is expected over the next few days.
Cole has more reason than most to seek assurances over health matters though, with his wife Louisa falling into the ‘at risk category’.
“They say a decision will be made this week but they have been saying that for weeks now,” the long-serving Blue told the Club website.
“A decision does need to be made but I echo what a lot of players are saying ‘it’s got to be safe to play, it has to be safe’.
“From my point of view, I have got personal things to consider. My wife is Type 1 diabetic and that puts her at greater risk. [One in four patients who have died of Coronavirus in hospitals in England had diabetes].
“My little daughter has been in hospital recently with bronchitis as well so I’ve got issues like that to consider. Family is everything.
“It’s got to be concrete that it’s a safe environment to play again; that everything is in place for me to consider strongly going back.”
Cole is speaking just a couple of days after signing a new contract at Town that will take him into an eighth season at the Club, with 273 appearances to his name since arriving as a free agent from Bristol City in 2013.
“Of course I’m delighted to be staying at what is a fantastic football club for at least another year,” he explained.
“It’s a mixed bag of emotions really. There is the relief of agreeing a new deal because with so much uncertainty around at the moment, it’s probably the worst time to be at the end of your contract. Every time you look on Sky they are talking about how many players will be out of work, especially in the lower leagues.
“I’ve got good friends who have not been given a contract and you feel for them.
“I’m fortunate in that I’ve got a fair few years behind me. I’ve had a good run at it but for players in their mid-20s, it will be worrying but then people up and down the country will be worrying about their jobs whatever career they are in. It’s difficult times for a lot of people.”
Cole’s contract sees Town have an option of another 12 months on top and while the playing side remains his focus, talks have been underway about a role for him beyond the first-team.
“I have spoken to Marcus [Evans, Club owner] and Lee [O’Neill, general manager football operations] about how I can help in other areas,” added the 34-year-old.
“My 100 per cent priority is playing football for as long as I can, whether that’s another year; two years; whatever.
“Alongside that though I’ve said I’d like to add my services in whatever way I can, whether that be coaching some of the younger players - which I do to a degree now - or whether it be attending off-field events for the Club, helping to promote the Club around the town and beyond. The more I do, the more I think I will find the pathway I want to pursue after my playing days are over.”
And it looks as though Ipswich will become his home after those playing days are over, which has surprised him in some ways.
“When I joined from Bristol at 27, it was the first time as a family we had moved away from there,” said Cole, who was born and bred in the city.
“You never know how long you are going to be at a club so after two years here we bought a farm back in Bristol that we thought would be our ‘forever home’ when I finished playing.
“My family, Louisa’s family are all back there and it was always our intention to return but the longer we have stayed here, the more settled we have become.
“It’s a great place to bring up a family; the kids love it here. We’ve got some good friends here. Ipswich is great football club to be involved with; the supporters have always been fantastic to me. We are renovating our house and we’ve got a ‘forever home’ here now. It feels home.”