After four-and-a-half months away from training and their team-mates, most of which was spent on furlough, Town coaching staff and players head back in next week as preparations for 2020/21 begin.
Boss Ricketts revealed the main focus will be on the ‘conditioning’ of his players in new-look training settings, which will feature a number of tests to assess what condition and shape the players are in.
Social distancing measures must be adhered to for the first few days, while players and staff will need to keep clear of Sundorne’s restaurant and gym areas, which will change the dynamic from ‘normal’ training sessions.
Town have not been permitted to provide players with fitness programmes to help ease them into Monday’s return, as per furlough rules.
Ricketts said: “You are very wary in any pre-season. Last year we had some injuries, Josh Laurent and Ollie Norburn pick up injuries during pre-season which you want to try to avoid and this year is going to be even harder because the players have been off for four months.
“You are treading on eggshells, trying to push them fitness-wise but at the same time not wanting to cause injury or long-term damage to anyone.
“It’s a long time. No professional footballer would’ve missed four months before barring an injury, and if they were injured they’d be at the club and in the gym doing work and having treatment.
“No player would ever have had this spell without football their whole life, even as a kid you wouldn’t have had this long.”
Shrewsbury’s pre-season will span six weeks – which is the period clubs generally tend to use – and a number of behind-closed-doors friendlies will be organised.
The club have spent a week abroad in warm-weather training camps over the last few years, an option unavailable this summer. The League One season begins on September 12, but Ricketts acknowledges there is a lot of work to do to ensure players get up to speed.
He added: “Basically we have to ease back in from a social distancing aspect, as much as anything. So we’ll be doing that. That’s only for a few days, and then you can step training up a little.
“Obviously the main focus will be on conditioning with the players, making sure we get some condition back in their bodies so they are able to train at a good tempo before we consider playing any games.”
But Ricketts, who spent the lockdown months home-schooling and looking after his young children and watching clips and making plans for next season, admits a return to a normal routine is most welcome for everybody.
“It’ll be nice to get back to a form of normality for everyone,” added the Town boss.
“Take football aside, everyone needs that routine in their life, it helps on a day-to-day basis.
“For myself, staff and players it’ll be nice to get back and we’re all looking forward to it - although still not completely normal.
“We still have to go through different protocols for training and games but it’ll be nice to be back at the training ground.
“The players will be really pleased to get in and enthusiastic about a return.
“Not on a football manager to player level, I’ve just been trying to make sure the players are OK with what is going on and being out of a routine.
“They all are people, all have their own ways. And everyone is OK, which is great.”