LOCKED down at home, unable to see family and friends, with your social contact limited to Zoom conference calls. If you’re already fed up of the latest national lockdown, Sunderland midfielder Josh Scowen knows exactly how you feel.

While football will continue over the next month-and-a-half as the rest of the country shuts down, Sunderland’s players were forced to endure their own period of isolation as a coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of the club’s Academy of Light training complex over Christmas.

With 14 senior players testing positive, along with a number of other staff members, the Black Cats’ squad were closeted away in their homes as three scheduled matches were cancelled.

Training sessions had to be staged remotely, with Lee Johnson and the rest of his coaching staff overseeing things via their laptops, while garages, back gardens and front rooms became makeshift gyms.

It was far from ideal, although with Sunderland’s Covid outbreak having been dealt with successfully, enabling a return to action at Northampton Town last weekend, Scowen accepts it was a necessary move.

And while the 27-year-old would not want to have to undergo the experience again, the opportunity to receive tactical instructions from Johnson over an intensive two-week period could prove extremely beneficial as the rest of the season unfolds.

“It was hard,” said Scowen, who was part of the Sunderland side that returned to action at Sixfields. “Obviously, with it being over Christmas, that was hard as well. Luckily, we had the Zoom meetings and most of the boys were able to do the sessions on there, so that kept us together during that time.

“We had a lot of Zoom meetings - some training, some tactical - over the break when we weren’t in training. He (Johnson) was telling us what to do, and it was really good. Hopefully, that continues.”

Prior to Sunderland’s lockdown, Scowen was fearing he could be sidelined for much of the second half of the season. The midfielder injured his shin in the 4-1 win at Lincoln City, and an initial X-ray suggested he might have suffered a fracture. Thankfully, a subsequent MRI scan revealed there had been no break, so a recovery period of more than two months was reduced to a handful of days.

“I was lucky my leg wasn’t fractured in the end,” said Scowen. “I have no idea what it was really. I trained all last week and felt good, so the gaffer had the faith to put me straight back in (at Northampton), which was good. It helps my confidence knowing the gaffer believes in me, and hopefully I can repay him.”

While Sunderland were out of action over Christmas, the club announced Kyril Louis-Dreyfus had agreed a deal to replace Stewart Donald as majority shareholder.

The EFL’s ratification process should be completed in the next couple of weeks, enabling Louis-Dreyfus to assume formal control, but while the prospective new boss is keen to make some immediate changes behind the scenes, Sunderland’s players are not getting too caught up in the off-pitch developments.

“It’s not something we talk about,” said Scowen. “We just want to get on the pitch and do what we’re here to do. We try to stay out of the background scenes.”