Some Premier League players will refuse to start training next week - report
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Some football players will not return to training on Monday as part of Project Restart, due to continuing health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, it is being reported.
The Daily Mail is claiming, in a rather sweeping generalisation, that Premier League clubs will be told during video calls today that some players are not yet convinced it is safe to step up training.
Clubs eased into a basic form of training last week, with training grounds allowed to open for use by players but under strict social distancing guidelines limiting numbers on site and preventing players from changing, showering or eating at the training complex.
Various meetings are being held throughout this week following the government’s confirmation on Monday that sport could potentially return behind closed doors in June if the rate of reproduction - the R number - remains low enough for England to enter the next phase of its pandemic recovery from June 1.
Players and clubs are expected to be meeting today, with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and League Managers’ Association (LMA) reportedly intending to consult their members on medical protocols tomorrow, ahead of further important meetings on Thursday.
That is when the PFA and LMA are due to discuss medical protocols with the Premier League and when the Culture Secretary is due to meet with football authorities.
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The next Premier League shareholders meeting is due to follow on Monday, May 18, the date that was widely initially reported as being Project Restart’s planned return to training for clubs, initially in groups and with strict social distancing hygiene rules being observed.
Norwich City’s PFA representative is defender Timm Klose, who will work closely with club captain Grant Hanley and senior staff in ensuring the club’s players are represented.
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The report claims that “a number of players across the league intend to use today’s meetings to inform their bosses they would rather not return while the threat of the coronavirus remains prevalent”, with Sergio Aguero and Danny Rose among the top players to have so far expressed concerns publicly.
Canaries midfielder Todd Cantwell posted a short comment on Twitter on Sunday saying “we are just people too” when posting a link to an article confirming that a third Brighton player had tested positive for Covid-19.
Canaries defender Sam Byram gave his views last week and made it clear he was keen to resume the season but only if he and his team-mates are convinced it is safe to do so, with former City keeper John Ruddy speaking in similar terms.
The Mail report also adds that there are concerns among players that they are being used as “political pawns” by the government, with prime minister Boris Johnson repeating his belief that the return of sport could “a much needed boost to national morale” when speaking in the House of Commons on Monday.
Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Wanderers have become the first top-flight club to install a drive-through coronavirus testing station for players at their training ground, with other clubs expected to follow suit.
BBC Sport reports that the drive-through stations are part of a £4million agreement between the Premier League and Hong Kong-based genetic testing company Prenetics.
- The issue of player safety was discussed at length on the latest edition of the Pinkun.com Norwich City Podcast, which can be listened to above. See the links below to subscribe to the show.