Karl Sheppard would not be alone when he suggested that he is going a bit stir-crazy in the house these days, but the Shelbourne striker has explained that he has to remain quite cautious as he falls into the at-risk category throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Shamrock Rovers and Cork City forward suffers from psoriatic arthritis and, as a result, has had to take extra precautions with isolation matters as a result of the threat of Covid-19.

"I have had to lock myself away from my girlfriend and her little one, so I am at the family home now. So it is only my Dad and my little brother who are my main contacts for the next few weeks," said Sheppard, speaking on this week's RTE Soccer Podcast.

"I have a problem with my immune system, it is overactive. To counteract that, I take injections to bring that down, so I need to be very careful with normal things like cuts. If I got a cut it would go from a normal healing time to weeks or months to heal.

"I get it in my back the worst. For football it is okay, and the main thing that I find is to keep the same routine."

The Dublin native, like the rest of his Shelbourne and League of Ireland colleagues, is keeping in shape via individual programmes, and while insisting that he is ticking over, he admitted that it can be difficult, on account of his condition and the fact that it is away from the camaraderie of the training ground.

"We have our own programmes to tick along with now. It feels like pre-season, however, it's tough when you don’t have the motivation, as you have no solid date of return in place.

"You can run all day but it’s tough when there is no one there to kick the ball back to you.

"When I am working and training, my back is getting a consistent load, but now when I am in the house for hours on end, it is not really reacting too well. 

"So I am trying to keep myself active, moving around the house. And when I am out running, I try to do lots of stretching and exercising to keep the back from getting painful."

Sheppard said that he was bemused three years ago when he was told that there was a chance that he might have a form of arthritis, and said that it was a life-changing moment when the diagnosis was confirmed. 

"It came on at the end of the 2017 season. We had just won the double [with Cork City] and I was doing my UEFA B licence, and I just couldn’t stand up.

"They thought I may have pulled a muscle in my back, but then a physio asked me if I had any rashes.

"I said I had one where my shinguards go on my leg. So he said he was sending me for tests as he thought I might have a form of arthritis.

"Typically, I was 27, so I laughed at him. But I went off for the tests and then the results came back and it was a life-changing moment."

Back at his schoolboy club for the first time as a League of Ireland player, Sheppard has been delighted with the way that his new side has adapted to their first season back in the top flight.

The Dublin club are currently fifth in the table and have enjoyed a fine start to the suspended season, while there was also good news for the players this week at a time of grave uncertainty throughout the division.

"We beat Cork and St Pat’s. Then we lost to Bohs but we came away from it frustrated as we thought we were the better team for maybe 50 or 60 minutes of the match.

"We played Dundalk and I had a chance in the 88th minute to grab a point, but I missed it when I should have scored.

"So it has been a good start to the season, and we want to hit the ground running when we come back.

"Players are being asked to take wage cuts around the league and all around the world, but we have been told that the club have guaranteed our wages until the league comes back in June.

"And that takes a massive burden off your shoulders, knowing that the club are looking after you and have your back in tough times."