The Premier League are resolute in their determination for clubs to restart full-contact training this week but face a battle to convince players in some quarters to throw in their lot with the decision.
Appreciably, the return to complete training as normal is a vital component essential to the expeditious speeding up of Project Restart, targeted for mid-June, and the top flight is waiting for government guidelines on how to go about it.
According to the Times, the Premier League want full-contact work to begin next week despite the reluctance of a number of players and are aiming to convince all the necessary parties in a crucial video presentation this Wednesday to players, managers and top club officials once the green light has been given, which would allow full training to begin the very next day.
The presentation needs to clearly outline how clubs can go about returning to full-contact work in the safest way possible as there are some who fear the dangers still posed by coronavirus to themselves and loved ones.
Last week a number of Watford players including the likes of Troy Deeney who declined to train at the club and N’Golo Kante also decided against returning for Chelsea.
There is particular concern arising in this particular area among BAME players as Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted people from those backgrounds. Office for National Statistics data states that black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people.
Leading anti-racism campaigner Troy Townsend told the Times:
“Maybe the Premier League needs to relax that definitive deadline of when they should be training and playing, so players can feel like they are part of the human race, and they need to take their time in how we come back. That’s why I think the middle of June suggestion (for restarting) is outrageous.
“I’ve always thought the highest level of the game should have better representation and probably that is now being highlighted because maybe those concerns would go up the agenda.
“Maybe certain circumstances and decisions would be made in a different light.”
Although in all fairness Premier League players are being regularly tested, the chances of spreading infection when battling for possession and coming into close contact are inevitably heightened.
As Deeney put it: “I can’t get a haircut until mid-July but I can go and get in a penalty box with 19 people and jump for a header, and nobody could answer the questions, not because they didn’t want to, just because they don’t know the information.”
Once the government finalises their guidelines, the information will be passed on through Premier League medical adviser Mark Gillett and director of football Richard Garlick.
Players will be asked to sign forms accepting the return to full-contact training.