As a professional football player, Tomas Cerny knew he’d have no chance mid-season of enjoying the two weeks of paternity leave granted to new fathers as he and his wife Laura prepared for the birth of their first child.
However, the Easter Road goalkeeper found plenty of time to get to know his son Luka after being banished from the Capital club’s East Mains training centre after becoming the second Hibs player to contract mumps.
Midfielder Sam Stanton was laid low in mid-February, while Cerny began to feel unwell at the beginning of this month. Although boss Alan Stubbs revealed the two cases were unconnected, their team-mates were offered booster jags as a precaution.
Like Stanton, 30-year-old Cerny was stunned when medics diagnosed mumps, the Czech Republic-born stopper having had all the vaccinations which he believed would guard against such an illness.
However, being laid low presented Cerny with an unexpected bonus of time to spend with Luka, his worries about spreading the highly contagious illness allayed by assurances that danger would have passed before he would be first able to start displaying symptoms.
Cerny said: “Just after the Scottish Cup match against Berwick Rangers I had swollen glands, but I was very surprised to be told I had mumps because I’d had all the vaccinations.
“Apparently, though, there’s still a small chance you can get it. I think if it had been connected to Sam I’d have fallen ill straight away, so it just seems to be something of a coincidence that we’ve both had it.
“Obviously the worry was that Luka, who is now a month old, might get it because mumps is very contagious, but I was told that’s the case for five days before you show the symptoms, but Luka is fine.
“Obviously as a football player you can’t take a break during the season. Paternity leave like other new fathers get would have been out of the question. Being confined to the house and not being allowed to go anywhere near the training ground was driving me up the wall, but the silver lining, if you want to call it that, was I had plenty of time with Luka and Laura.”
Cerny made his return to action for Hibs Under-20 side as they faced Celtic last week before being recalled to Stubbs’ squad for the trip to Kirkcaldy. He replaced Kleton Perntreou on the substitute’s bench to deputise for current No.1 Marrk Oxley and, like those who had travelled from Edinburgh, he looked on in disbelief as Raith Rovers snatched a 2-1 win, despite the Capital side having dominated virtually the entire match.
The former Hamilton player, who joined Hibs on a short-term deal in January having severed his ties with Greek Super League side Ergotelis, said: “It was one of those games where you were left asking ‘how did we not win it?’ We created plenty of opportunities, but other than Fraser Fyvie’s goal, we weren’t able to take them and as we all know that can cost you.
“We dominated the game, played some really good football despite a bumpy pitch and the wind, so to take nothing from it was disappointing for everyone.”
A second successive defeat, Hibs’ 15 match unbeaten run having been ended the previous week by Rangers, leaves Stubbs’ players clinging to second place in the Championship table only on goal difference from the Ibrox outfit, the weekend a missed opportunity to also put further distance between themselves and Queen of the South and Falkirk, both of whom also lost, in the race to secure the bare minimum of a play-off spot.
Cerny, however, insisted self-interest is all that concerns him and his team-mates. He said: “There’s a few games to go and we have to look to try to win as many as we can and see where we are at the end of the season. We’re not interested in what other teams are doing, we can only influence the outcome of our own games and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.
“We’ve got Queen of the South at Easter Road on Saturday. It’s another big match and a tough one, but it’s a chance to open up a three-point lead on Rangers and put a little more pressure on them before they play Hearts the following day.”
Cerny admitted he’ll also be hoping to play some part in that push for promotion, having been unable to dislodge on-loan Hull City goalkeeper Oxley. He said: “That was another frustration of being ill. I was just starting to feel sharper, my fitness was there and then I was out for a fortnight.
“Obviously you want to play, but any team can only field one goalkeeper at a time. Mark has done well, so it’s been hard to get into a team which has also, bar the past couple of results, been going so well for months. We don’t feel we’ve deserved to lose the last two games and we’ll be aiming to get back to winning ways this weekend.
“And on a personal level, I’ll be working hard in the hope of getting my chance.”