Saturday’s game at Salford City will not be the same without the fans says Grecians midfielder Matt Jay.
With the Covid restrictions still barring supporters from attending league matches, they will have to make do with iFollow for the time being and Jay says that their absence will be felt.
“Having the crowd noise really helps me personally because it’s something that is an integral part of this club,” he said.
“We know there are limitations in place regarding fans being in the ground. It’s a real shame but there are good reasons for it.
“It’s such a shame because the start of the season is a great time for the fans. We really hope it’s not too long but we have to stick to the guidelines.
“We really miss them but we all have to do our bit to stay safe. It’s great to read all the messages online and we know they are all rooting for us.
“We really can’t wait to have them back!”
It has been 185 days since City were last in regular league action, but the 24-year-old believes that the Grecians have had it lucky thanks to the play-offs in June allowing the team to train together more often than their league counterparts.
“It is crazy that it’s been so long since we have played a league game. We are probably one of the few clubs to have been able to train sooner and things because we had the play-offs, so it’s been ok for us.
“It’s been surreal though. We have all been looking forward to the start of the season and all hoping that everything runs smoothly.”
Jay has enjoyed a solid pre-season campaign and scored his first goal of the season against Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night. He hopes this will the start of what could be a breakthrough season for him, but stresses the importance of team depth with a packed schedule expected throughout the campaign.
“The manager picks the team every week, not me, so I just have to make sure I do enough in the games I do play and in training to continue playing.
“There are enough games this year that mean we will all be involved and there is a lot of travelling, so we will need everyone on board.
“I’m really looking forward to a run in the team.”
Jay is now the longest serving City player and enters his eighth season on Saturday, something with he finds hard to believe. He does though admit it is part and parcel of the modern game.
“It’s mad to think that but it is just part of football,” he added.
“Players and managers come and go but I’ve stayed and that’s just how it is. I love it here and I really want to kick on. I really wanted to get promoted and get back to where we should be.”