By now, All Whites midfielder Joe Bell should have made his professional debut.
In any other year the former Wellington Phoenix Academy product would have already featured in Norway's top division, as the league usually kicks off in late March or early April.
But Bell, like many other Kiwi players in Europe, has seen his dreams put on ice, due to the impact of the global Covid-19 outbreak.
So after the toughest pre-season of his career — with mountain runs in "horizontal rain" — the 20-year-old is still waiting to make his debut with Viking, based in Stavanger on Norway's west coast.
It's unfortunate, but Bell has made the most of the time in limbo.
Running has maintained his fitness, as well as hikes in the neighbouring hills, while he has also worked hard to keep up strength gains he made in pre-season.
"It's not the worst place in the world to be stuck," Bell told the Herald on Sunday. "It has given me a chance to get to know the area a bit better. The people are great, very down to earth and humble and it feels a lot like New Zealand, apart from the sunlight and the weather."
Bell had a breakout year in 2019, going from promising prospect to fully fledged international.
He was one of the standouts at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland — as New Zealand reached the second round — then impressed immensely for the All Whites against Ireland and Lithuania in November.
Given he was selected from college in the United States (University of Virginia), his composure and authority at that level was remarkable, and he has already been spoken about as a future All Whites captain.
Bell took the next step by signing for Viking, eight-time Norwegian champions, in early January. He had other options, including the MLS, but the loyalty shown by the Nordic club was a key factor as well as being in the sport's hub.
"As a young player in college, the coaching staff in Viking believed in me, really stuck with me over an eight to 10 month period," said Bell. "And it had also always been a goal to play in Europe. [Viking] is seen as a selling club, which gave me the chance for that first stepping stone, onto bigger things hopefully in the future."
It's a lofty goal, but few would doubt Bell's capacity to achieve it. He has handled every step up with aplomb so far, though admits the progression from college to professional has been considerable.
"The biggest standout is the intensity in training every day," said Bell. "Back in college you could be off for a day or two, or get by playing at maybe 80 per cent. Here you have to be at 100 per cent every day.
"That is really good for me, allowing me to learn to focus on every moment of the game. As soon as you switch off, you get punished."
The physical side was also tough, in a brutal pre-season.
"Mountain men, that's how I'd describe it," laughed Bell. "But it was good for the body. There were some long trainings, and we have a great fitness coach who likes to make use of the landscape. There were some hill runs, in horizontal rain, but you need to harden up somehow."
Bell has already noted the strong local football culture, and Viking is one of the best supported clubs in the Eliteserien.
Roy Hodgson and Uwe Rosler have previously held the manager's position, and notable European scalps include Chelsea and Sporting Lisbon (both in the UEFA Cup), in front of packed houses at their 16,000 capacity stadium.
Norway went into lockdown a few weeks ahead of New Zealand last month, but football teams resumed training last week in groups of four.
"I'll be excited to get back with the team," said Bell. "But so far everything has been fantastic. Up until January I was balancing school and football at the same time. Now it's different and it's given me more chance to focus on other aspects of the game that I wanted to previously but didn't have time."