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Q&A: Chris Mepham

■ The Bournemouth and Wales defender on football’s suspension due to coronavirus — and his journey from non-league to the top flight

Who have you been self-isolating with and have you been able to keep training?

It’s been me and my girlfriend. It’s been quite nice to have someone there with me — it would have been a lot harder by myself. At least I’ve been able to do gym work in the garden.

It’s been two months without football but you’ve been out since January anyway?

Yes, it’s been even longer for me. Especially with my injury, it seems like I’ve been out for a really long time. We’ve had a lot of injuries at Bournemouth this season.

Are you ready to return and fully fit again now?

I’m as good as I can be without doing any ball work yet. I’ve needed to start kicking a ball again. The schedule here is always very demanding and we always have a hard-working mindset.

What are you missing most about ‘normal life’?

Not being able to go out and see your mates. At the club, we see each other regularly, for coffee after training maybe, and most of us live within about five minutes of each other so it’s been strange not seeing them.

What did you think about the return of German football at the weekend and how it looked?

It’s definitely not what you’re used to seeing, especially at grounds as big as Borussia Dortmund’s. It was very weird but what we’d all expect from the current situation. We know fans won’t be allowed in for a significant amount of time.

What do you expect the return to action to be like for the Cherries?

I think it will be so different. We’re used to playing in front of so many people. But the positive is we will be back playing as long as it’s healthy to do so and right for everyone. We all know it’s not going to be an ideal situation.

How do you feel about potentially playing at neutral grounds?

We’ve picked up a lot more points at home [17] than away [ten] this season and that’s down to the fans. So the prospect of them not being in the ground is not a nice one and everyone will lose home advantage.

How did you react when you heard the Euros had been put back to next year?

I try to take the positives and although as a nation we’re disappointed, there will be plenty more young players coming through by next year. We’ve already seen the likes of Dan James do so well at Manchester United this season.

You started at Chelsea as a youngster, found yourself at North Greenford United, and now play against the elite. How would you describe your career?

It’s been an unbelievable rollercoaster so far. I found myself in quite a difficult position when I was young, being let go by Chelsea [at 14] and then struggling on trials at other clubs, so to find myself as a Premier League footballer and an international is fantastic.

You’re an ambassador for Sporting Minds UK. With this being Mental Health Awareness Week, how important is your work with them?

Sporting Minds is always approachable for players like myself, whether you are professional or semi-pro. We’re hearing a lot about mental health in sport at the moment, especially, and I definitely don’t see it as a negative. People know I’m always at the end of the phone.

Sporting Minds UK is a registered charity that provides and promotes mental health support to young sports people. To access one-to-one support, get involved or donate go to