HAVING played more than 300 matches in a career which has taken him from the Junior game to League Cup quarter-finals at Celtic Park, you'd be forgiven for thinking Neil Parry had seen it all in his time. 

One thing the 34-year-old had been relatively lucky to escape, however, was the arduous process of recovery from a near season ending injury. 

That was until he pulled up after an innocuous looking stretch in Dunfermline last September and suddenly all those years of luck in avoiding the treatment table came to an abrupt, painful end. 

READ MORE: Neil Parry backs Andy Graham to return after escaping own injury Hell

Thankfully, Parry's hard work under the guidance of Alloa's physio Gerry Docherty defied the doomsayers and the former Airdrieonians stopper was able to return to action in the final few games of the season. 

An unprecedented pandemic soon put paid to his hopes to get as much game time as possible under his belt, but, despite this, Parry is sure he has come out of the difficult experience for the better. 

"I had never really had a serious injury and getting it on my hamstring was a tough one to take," he told Advertiser Sport. "I worked really hard to get back and did a lot of work with the physio. 

"You maybe take it for granted you will be able to play every week and train every week. Some players I have played with have been unfortunate to have a few serious injuries. 

"It has taught me to do a bit more away from the pitch. It's difficult because I have a family and a full-time job, but even if it's the small things it will make a difference.

"That can be a bit of work in the gym at lunchtime. Not necessarily getting yourself fitter, but looking after your body, doing stretching, and taking care of yourself.

"It's taught me that if I want to keep playing for the next few years then that is what I have to do. It's almost like your age just creeps up on you. 

Strathallan Times: Neil Parry with former boss Jack Ross, who brought him to the club Neil Parry with former boss Jack Ross, who brought him to the club

"You still think you're one of the younger ones then in a blink of an eye you are one of the old codgers in the dressing room. 

"As far as doing that little bit extra to look after my body, it has definitely taught me that."

As the game slowly begins to take it's first steps towards a return in Scotland, Parry is continuing to make do with finding new ways to look after his body. Running in the streets of his native East Kilbride is certainly doing its bit, while he's also been lucky enough to feel the familiarity of a size five in his gloves. 

"I am really just going out runs right now and trying to keep myself ticking over," he said. "I am quite fortunate that near to me there is some grass I can go to and do different types of running drills.

"I actually have a lot of footballs that I have used for the coaching [Parry coaches East Kilbride YC], so I am able to do a bit of kicking and things like that. It's not the same, if I am honest, and I am hoping that sooner rather than later we can even get the nod to do a wee goalkeeper session with just a few of us.

"You need to make sure your body is ready for when you are pulled back into it and it's the same for everyone.

"You see it in the team group chat and it's amazing just how much we all miss training and the different things like that, which at the time you maybe don't appreciate so much.

"Now, the thought of going into training and having a laugh with the boys and a good sweat up at training would be brilliant." 

Whenever the Championship does return, it will mark Parry's fifth season in Clacks and he's just as smitten with the place as he was when he first arrived from the Diamonds.

READ MORE: Kevin Cawley reflects on a summer of uncertainty and life at Alloa

It's in no small part down to the set-up at the Recs and, in a time where many footballers in the full-time game face an uncertain future, the care from Mike Mulraney down to the catering staff has never been more appreciated. 

"Since the moment I have walked into Alloa, they have always done things right for the players," he said. "It is appreciated and in an uncertain time you are fortunate.

Strathallan Times: Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney  

"You are maybe fortunate in a time like this to be a part-time footballer. People think full-time footballer is a glamorous profession, but I really don't envy them when there are a lot of job losses going on.

"It's all credit to the club for getting things sorted quickly and the majority of us have signed on."