Canaries preparing for vote on next stage of Project Restart

Norwich City players including, from left, Ben Godfrey, Tom Trybull and Teemu Pukki resumed training

Norwich City players including, from left, Ben Godfrey, Tom Trybull and Teemu Pukki resumed training at Colney in small groups last week while still observing social distancing Pictures: Norwich City FC - Credit: Norwich City FC

Norwich City will discover tomorrow if the suspended season can resume next month as planned, when the Premier League’s clubs vote on whether it is safe to resume full contact training.

While it’s generally considered that clubs see the hygiene protocols and coronavirus testing as satisfactory to continuing work towards a June restart without spectators at games during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is one big issue which players and staff have required reassurance about.

That is centred around concerns for the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community, due to trends in national figures during the pandemic which has prompted Public Health England to launch a scientific review.

Clubs were having individual calls with senior Premier League figures and medical advisors today, with Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and League Managers’ Association (LMA) representatives also able to ask questions.

The success of those conversations is set to be revealed on Wednesday, following the latest vote of the top-flight clubs, on Step Two of the Return to Training Protocol - after Step One was voted through last week, allowing players to return to training in small groups, with social distancing still in place.

Of course players cannot maintain a distance of two metres in full training and games if football is to resume, so the vote is the next step in continuing along a similar path which has allowed the Bundesliga to restart in Germany.

Part of that is players and staff being tested twice a week, with the first two rounds bringing just eight positive results from 1,744 tests in total - or 99.5pc negative.

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Among those to test positive - and then isolate for seven days - are Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, who have both spoken of their surprise due to having no symptoms of the virus. The third set of results are due to be released on Wednesday as well.

A further shareholders’ meeting is scheduled for Thursday when clubs will look at wider issues, including possibly confirming a restart date, which is reportedly set to be June 19. Talks around potentially allowing broadcasters more access on match days and on what would happen if the season does have to be curtailed are also expected.

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Norwich are bottom and six points from safety with nine games remaining, with a home FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United also outstanding. The use of neutral grounds is set to be reviewed at that meeting as well, although the majority of clubs rejected that prospect in a previous vote, prompting fresh discussions with government, police and security officials about whether it would be possible to play at home and away venues as planned.

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