Smithies has established himself as Cardiff’s first choice keeper this season and had played a leading role in their push for promotion when the big shutdown arrived last month.

But it has not been all plain sailing since his move from QPR almost two years ago. He has had to show patience and determination to make the starting line-up each week – just as he did when he left Huddersfield for QPR.

“It’s sometimes tough when you are working really hard but not getting opportunities,” he says.

“But it happened to me at QPR as well as Cardiff. I went there and didn’t play for the first three months. It took me a while to get into the team.

“When you are plugging away, but you’ve got little to show for it, it becomes about having to believe in yourself. 

“But the upside is that when opportunity eventually does come, and you manage to take it, then you feel a real sense of achievement.”

For now, the Bluebirds’ keeper’s ambitions – to lift Cardiff into the Premier League – are on hold. Like most of the population, he is stuck at home and unable to work.

It’s very different, he says, to the summer break as the re-start date, for training and playing, is still so uncertain.

So, for now, he is keeping fit at home, and supporting his wife and two young daughters as they, too, adjust to this strange new world.

Smithies says the key to staying focussed is to have structure and routine, even if your normal timetable has gone out of the window.

For him, that means working out in his home-built gym in the mornings, after stretching exercises and then using his valuable allowance of one trip out of his home to ensure the welfare of his family.

“I would love to be able to use that time to go for a nice run myself, but at the moment we are making sure the kids get out for a walk every day. They need to get outside and it would be completely selfish of me to use my exercise time outside just for myself.

“We tend to go out with the kids for walks and as we live in Wales, there are places very near which are beautiful. We can be isolated and also get some fresh air. 

“I’ve lived here for almost two years now, and I’m now finding places every day that I’d never walked before. A lot of the time I’m carrying a two-year-old for that walk, so I’m getting some good strength exercise benefits as well.”

Alex’s advice corner – tips for mind and body

  1. The mental side is difficult for everyone. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety in all walks of life. Make sure you are talking to people and not socially isolated. 
  2. Use technology. We are 200 miles away from our families in Yorkshire, so we’ve been using the Zoom app to stay in contact. We’ve actually started doing family quizzes, which have been quite entertaining.
  3. Have a routine. You need to have meaning and structure to your day, otherwise you can feel as though you are just wasting these days away. Write down a list of things you want to achieve each day.
  4. S-T-R-E-T-C-H: When I am at the training ground, I will always have 20 to 25 minutes of stretching before training. You want to be loose and have your heart rate up. Even for people who don’t want to do proper training session, I’d suggest they do some stretching because it will make them feel more mobile and in better shape.
  5. Use your body. I’ve got quite a bit of kit at home, but in times gone by, I’ve been able to do sessions at home just using bodyweight – press-ups and burpees etc.
  6. Stay upbeat and feel grateful. I have positive thoughts, but also some negative thoughts. But my wife always looks on the bright side, so it’s good to be around her. She keeps me upbeat. Look around you and see what, and who, you’re grateful for.