Water breaks needed if Premier League returns says Brighton chief

Brighton chief Paul Barber calls for regular water breaks if Premier League football returns during the summer

  • Brighton chief Paul Barber has called for water breaks if Premier League returns
  • Clubs are growing confident that the league will return next month in June
  • Barber said the Premier League need to think about players’ ‘wellbeing’ 

Regular water breaks may be needed in Premier League games if football returns during summer, according to Brighton chief executive Paul Barber.

Clubs are growing increasingly confident of a return to action next month, but playing football in warmer conditions and on harder pitches could heighten the risk of injury and dehydration.

Barber said: ‘We’ll certainly be looking at all the physiological challenges and demands players are going to be under by playing in warmer months. I’d imagine drinks breaks will be a regular feature of matches, for instance.

Brighton chief Paul Barber says measures needed if football returns in warmer conditions

‘A lot of the players in the Premier League are full internationals and have played in tournaments in summer before.

‘But clearly other players won’t be used to that. That’s when we’ll need to use the experts around them and to think about their wellbeing.’

The Premier League is nearing a return during June as clubs and shareholders frantically plan to get action back after the coronavirus pandemic.  

Barber has called for regular water breaks to be implemented if games return during summer

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Jonathan Leko: West Brom winger reflects on incident with Leeds’ Kiko Casilla

West Brom winger Jonathan Leko speaks to Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth about the incident involving Leeds’ Kiko Casilla, his future and promotion prospects for the Baggies…

To say it’s been an eventful eight months for West Brom forward Jonathan Leko would be an understatement.

As he continues his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained in December while on loan at Charlton, the enforced break has allowed him time to look back on the racist abuse he suffered from Leeds’ keeper Kiko Casilla.

The incident happened on September 28 last year. Casilla was given an eight-match ban five months later.

When the punishment was handed down, Leko questioned “whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future”.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, he revealed there’s been no contact from Casilla or Leeds – let alone an apology.

“I’m just glad it’s over now, he said.

“At the time, I was annoyed how long it took to get dealt with. That probably made me feel bad because nobody was listening to me or taking me seriously.

“Now I’ve changed my stance and would tell people to report any incident. I had a meeting with the PFA and they say if it happens again, they can speed up the process and get people to help.

“I’ve had lots of support – especially from Charlton. I’ve had nothing from the Leeds United side. It surprises me a little bit as I thought I would get some sort of an apology, but I guess they have to back their player.

“It’s done now and I want to move on. I don’t want to talk it over with him. No – I don’t want to do that.”

Reflecting on the suspension of English football amid the coronavirus pandemic, Leko is trying to see the extended time off as a positive, after his ACL injury ruled him out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season

“I don’t think it’s impacted me”, he added. “I think I’ve dealt with it ok and I’m happy and trying to get fit for next season. I feel I’m mentally stronger than I’ve ever been. Especially with the injury, I feel like I can get through stuff a lot more easily.

“It came at the worst time. I was playing and Charlton were a good fit for me. It was a good learning experience for me. I really liked Lee Bowyer – he gave me a lot of opportunities.

“The recovery is going well so far and I’m ahead of schedule. It’s been hard because I can’t go into the training ground because of the pandemic, so I’ve been doing it on my own in the garage. Normally the physio is there to help you, but it has made me stronger.

“If I was fit, and the season was back, I would personally go back in. But I do understand those who wouldn’t. Some have families and people at home they want to protect.

“I sympathise with them, but personally I would play. I’ve not been tested, but some of the players have.”

On Wednesday, the EFL board looked at three different situations currently facing the Championship, League One and League Two, in determining how to conclude the 2019/20 season.

West Brom are second in the Championship table on 70 points after 37 matches played, while Charlton are two points adrift in the relegation zone.

“I want West Brom to get promoted and Charlton to stay up,” Leko added.

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Manchester United make £3.3m financial loss in Third Quarter Fiscal 2020 Results

Manchester United have felt the financial pinch of the coronavirus crisis, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward vowing to “weather these challenges” as a return to action edges closer.

Woodward last month conceded United are not “immune” to the financial ramifications of the ongoing pandemic, although said the club can remain “highly competitive” in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Fewer games have been played in the third financial quarter of 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, with United making less money from broadcasting and matchday revenues.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team last played 10 weeks ago, when they thrashed LASK in a Europa League last-16 clash forced behind closed doors due to Covid-19 measures in Austria.

The Premier League was suspended the following day and that has taken its toll on the balance sheet, with United no longer predicting the revenues of up to £580m forecast in the second quarter of fiscal 2020.

Instead, United said in their third quarter result they were withdrawing their previous guidance “given ongoing uncertainty due to COVID-19 and the evolving related economic and financial consequences”.

United recorded an overall loss of £3.3m between January 1 to March 31, which was primarily down to the 51.7 per cent decrease in broadcast revenue.

At £26m compared to £53.8m the previous year, United said that was “primarily due to an estimated £15m Premier League rebate due to broadcasters, following delay and broadcast schedule changes to the 2019/20 football season, non-participation in the UEFA Champions League, and the impact of playing two fewer Premier League away games”.

United expect to pay a £20m rebate to broadcasters this year, with the £15m reduction mentioned in the results reflecting the 29 games played to-date.

Revenue has dropped 18.7 per cent over the prior year quarter to £123.7m as debt rose 42.2 per cent to £429.1m, but Woodward believes United are well placed to bounce back.

“Our focus remains on the health and well-being of our colleagues, fans and partners around the world and we are extremely proud of how those connected to the club have responded during this crisis,” Woodward said.

“Since the start of the pandemic, Manchester United and our Foundation have provided assistance to hospitals, charities and schools in our communities, as well as support for frontline workers and vulnerable fans.

“These actions reflect our core values as a club and the resilience through adversity that we have demonstrated many times throughout our long history and will do so again to weather these current challenges.

“In that spirit, we look forward to the team safely returning to the pitch and building on the exciting momentum that Ole and the players had previously achieved, while taking all necessary steps to protect public health.

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Gylfi Sigurdsson: Everton’s Icelandic midfielder targets strong season finish

Gylfi Sigurdsson admits the suspension of football has been far from ideal for Everton, coming less than three months into Carlo Ancelotti’s reign at Goodison Park.

Everton sit 12th in the Premier League with work to do in their final nine games if they are to secure European football next season.

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Ancelotti’s side were thrashed 4-0 at Chelsea in their last game before the football shutdown at the start of March – and Everton were closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places before football’s hiatus.

“It’s not come at the best time,” Sigurdsson told Sky Sports. “With the new manager having been there for a little while, we were getting used to what he wants. We were looking forward to the last nine games of the season.

“Hopefully we can come back into training and really finish strongly.”

Everton have predominantly used a 4-4-2 formation under Ancelotti, carried on since Duncan Ferguson’s time as caretaker manager.

The system has meant Sigurdsson not playing in his preferred No 10 position – and that has contributed to the 30-year-old scoring just one Premier League goal this season having been Everton’s joint-top scorer during the 2018/19 season with 14.

“Of course, I have played as part of a two in midfield for Iceland – which is a little bit different, but it’s not my natural position.

“I’ve played most of the games and I’ve got used to playing in that position under the manager. It doesn’t give me the chance to go forward as much as I would like, but it’s something different and I’m enjoying it.”

‘Behind-closed-doors will have massive effect’

Sigurdsson was watching closely as the Bundesliga returned last weekend behind closed doors and under rigorous health and safety measures.

It is an environment he will have to get used to himself when the Premier League returns – but it is not one he is relishing.

“It’s going to have a massive effect I think. The fans make the atmosphere and they bring a lot of passion. The players feed off that, so of course you wonder what it’s going to be like celebrating a goal.

“When you win with no fans in the stadium, it’s going to be totally different, but it will be nice for fans to watch football again on the TV. Hopefully, this is just the first step to things moving in the right direction. Hopefully, sooner rather than later we’ll have fans in the stadium.”

Sigurdsson’s long-lasting love for English football

The attacking midfielder has a painting of himself embracing his father after knocking England out of Euro 2016 in his study, and the Icelander pinpoints that night in Nice when his country reached the quarter-finals as the most memorable of his career.

The following summer, after proving to be Swansea’s talisman in keeping the club afloat following a season in which the club flirted with relegation, Sigurdsson joined Everton for a club-record £45m.

The challenge was to be the figurehead of the Farhad Moshiri era at Goodison Park, but aside from fleeting moments of magic, it has been a Blues career riddled by fits and starts and unfulfilled potential.

Despite the sense of unfinished business on Merseyside, understandable given his price tag, it has been a successful time in England for Sigurdsson – a love affair which started at a very young age.

“My interest in football in England started very young. The Premier League was on TV and my dad used to watch it so naturally I would be sat with him on a Saturday or a Sunday watching the football with him.

“My dad and my brother took me over to England a few times to train with various clubs. My brother basically ended up sending a CD to a few clubs of me playing football. That seems like a long time ago now, but it ended up signing for Reading.”

The Royals already had fellow Icelanders Brynjar Gunnarsson and Ivar Ingimarsson on their books, while Eidur Gudjohnsen and Hermann Hreidarsson had already blazed a trail for their countrymen to follow.

Sigurdsson added: “We had a few players to look up to and see that it was possible to get into the Premier League, but of course back then it was a bit more difficult to make the step – but thankfully we had CDs and my brother was able to make one!”

The former Swansea playmaker admits life without football has been surreal, calm and “different” without being able to prepare for a game at the weekend.

Gym work and golf course runs has been the order of the day for eight weeks, but Sigurdsson is happy to return to USM Finch Farm this week.

“It’s been refreshing at the same time, spending time with the family and think about other stuff. But myself and all the boys are really forward to getting back into training.

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Premier League ramps up plans for teams to return to contact training

Premier League ramps up plans to allow teams to return to contact training with ‘protocol being finalised TODAY before being sent to clubs ahead of a vote next Tuesday’

  • Players have slowly returned to individual training this week after being tested
  • The Premier League has been drawing up more plans regarding Project Restart 
  • Protocol for contact training and matches are said to be finalised on Wednesday 

The Premier League will step up plans to return to contact training this week when they approach clubs regarding phase two of Project Restart.

Teams have been making a steady return to individual training this week and now the league’s organisers will contact managers and captains over how to progress.

According to The Telegraph, protocol for contact training and matches were being finalised on Wednesday and will soon be shared with clubs.

Premier League protocol for clubs to return to contact training is being finalised this week

Reports say the protocol will cover what to do if a player tests positive during contact training

The publication adds that smaller groups of players and managers will be contacted over the plans, with mass zoom calls proving to be less practical.

Clubs will then have the weekend to review the details of the proposals before a vote is held on Tuesday over the plans.

The Telegraph says proposals will also cover what to do if a positive test emerges after players have returned to contact training.

The government has said it is harder to catch the disease while outdoors and that it is a reason why it is supportive of football’s attempts of a return to action.

But some players will have to be convinced. Watford captain Troy Deeney has been vocal about his caution over returning due to the health of his son, who has had breathing difficulties in the past. 

Deeney said: ‘We’re due back in this week. I’ve said I’m not going. 

‘It only takes one to get infected. I don’t want to bring that home – my son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties. I don’t want to put him in more danger.’

This week, players returned to their clubs to partake in individual training and the first instalment of coronavirus testing was carried out.

Clubs will review the plans over the weekend and there will be a vote on proposals next week

Watford defender Adrian Mariappa has confirmed he’s tested positive for the coronavirus

Out of 748 tests, six were positive. Watford defender Adrian Mariappa was one of the positives, as was Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan. 

Mariappa, who is asymptomatic, said of his diagnosis: ‘Ever since I got my positive result back on Tuesday, I’ve been scratching my head to try to work out how I might have got coronavirus.

‘The club doctor called to tell me and, to be honest, I did ask whether it could be 100 per cent accurate or whether my results could have got muddled up. Maybe if I had been displaying any symptoms then it might have made sense.’

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Targett: Premier League stars will be unfit if season resumes in June

‘You need five or six weeks to get into any sort of shape’: Aston Villa star Matt Targett warns players will be lacking match fitness if the Premier League resumes next month and admits ‘it felt so weird having a ball at your feet’

  • Aston Villa defender Matt Targett believes players need more time to get fit  
  • The Premier League is hoping to resume the season in the middle of next month
  • Villa are one of many top flight clubs heading back to training this week 
  • But Targett says stars will need five or six weeks to get back to peak condition 
  • He admitted it felt ‘weird’ to have a ball at his feet after returning to training  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Aston Villa defender Matt Targett has cast doubt on the Premier League’s plan to resume the season on June 19 by warning the players will be well short of top form if it does.

Top-flight clubs began training in small groups this week, with the plan to move to full-contact training in the near future as players and staff receive twice-weekly tests for coronavirus.

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling and former Arsenal and England physio Gary Lewin – who favours a June 26 return – have already warned of the dangers of returning to action too early. Now Targett – whose side are 19th in the table – has revealed there is a long way to go before he regains peak condition.

Aston Villa’s Matt Targett admits players could struggle to be fit in time for a June return

‘You’re going to need a good five or six weeks to get into any sort of shape,’ he said. ‘[In the first session on Tuesday] I felt so much heavier running around.

‘You do different sorts of runs (in training) which is completely different to running around a park. It’s a lot more intense.

‘It’s very different. We’ve been sent our individual programmes. It just felt so weird having a ball at your feet.’

Germany’s Bundesliga restarted last weekend, after many of their clubs began small-group training on April 6 – 40 days before competitive football returned.

Targett also indicated Villa had received ‘the all-clear’ after the first round of coronavirus tests were taken on Sunday.

The left back revealed he and his Aston Villa team-mates all tested negative for coronavirus 

Six of the 748 tests made across the league came back positive, with Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan among them along with one player and two members of staff from Watford.

Targett told the BBC: ‘Training was a bit delayed as we were waiting to get our results from our testing we did on Sunday. Once we got the all clear we went out in small groups on different pitches.

‘It was good to be back out there with some of the boys. It felt weird to be training in small groups.

‘I was with Tyrone Mings, Douglas Luiz and Pepe Reina. You do just individual position stuff. ‘There’s not a lot you can do. You’ve got to keep ticking over and to try to get yourself back into some sort of shape.’

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Premier League confirms six positive Covid-19 cases after 728 tests

The Premier League’s hopes of restarting the season in three weeks’ time have taken a blow after six positive Covid-19 cases were found in the first round of testing.

Each club conducted their own testing over the weekend, with 728 tests carried out between players and staff.

Of those tested, six were found to be positive and they have been asked to self-isolate for a period of seven days.

The Premier League has refused to confirm the names of those who have tested positive and it’s unclear if the six are players or staff members.

‘The Premier League can today confirm that, on Sunday 17 May and Monday 18 May, 748 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19,’ a statement read.

‘Of these, six have tested positive from three clubs. Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.

‘The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and oversight.

‘No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the Premier League due to legal and operational requirements.

The news comes as a blow to the Premier League’s hopes of resuming the season, particularly against a backdrop in the United Kingdom where cases and deaths are far higher than in other European countries.

Premier League clubs are set to resume training this week but against a set of strict restrictions that limit sessions to 75 minutes.

Clubs have taken their own measures to ensure the safety of their employees, including spreading out arrival times, asking players to arrive in their training kit and limiting training groups to five.

The Bundesliga became the first league to resume last weekend and the world of sport is keeping a keen eye on Germany to see how the situation develops.

Substitutes were asked to social distance and to wear masks, while players on the field could not celebrate together or shake hands afterwards.

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Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League triumph: Frank Lampard’s memories

Eight years on from Chelsea’s Champions League victory, Frank Lampard runs through his memory of that famous day in the Munich, and the run-up to the final…

Under Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea won the Champions League for the first time, defying all the odds along the way in dramatic knockout wins against Napoli and Barcelona, and a final victory over Bayern Munich in their own backyard.

Speaking to Jamie Redknapp on Tuesday’s The Football Show, Lampard fondly remembers what was to be the best year in Chelsea’s history, as a topsy-turvy few months culminated in triumph…

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“You struggle to believe the story,” said Lampard. “There were so many sub-plots to what was the best year in Chelsea’s history.”

Breakdown in Naples

In the last 16 first leg, Andre Villas-Boas was under severe pressure with Chelsea struggling domestically, and a 3-1 defeat at Napoli spelled the end for the Portuguese boss…

“It was tough,” Lampard said. “Now doing the job that I do, I now understand it would have been tough for the manager.

“Looking back, I was disappointed on the night. You can see why the game went the wrong way for us, it was a tough atmosphere to go into, and we weren’t solid, we weren’t right.”

Second-leg comeback

But in the return leg at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea turned it on under interim manager Di Matteo, winning 3-1 in normal time to take it to extra-time, before Branislav Ivanovic’s winner sent Chelsea to the quarter-final.

“One of the great nights at Stamford Bridge. To go in 3-1 down, with the talent they had, and the circumstances of Robbie coming in. He spoke to the players individually and garnered a spirit.

“Big names step up, and we stepped up that night with the help of an amazing crowd.”

A Nou Camp miracle – ‘I was thinking double figures’

Chelsea then got past Benfica 3-1 on aggregate in the quarter-final, before being drawn against the current champions Barcelona, widely regarded as the best team in world football at the time.

Didier Drogba’s goal gave them a 1-0 win in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, but a depleted Chelsea went to the Nou Camp a week later, losing Gary Cahill early through injury and then captain John Terry to a red card.

Barcelona then raced 2-0 ahead, and though Lampard admits he felt at the time it could have gone into double-figures for the hosts, Chelsea formed a stunning comeback, scoring through Ramires just before half-time, before defending deep for 45 minutes and grabbing a second through Fernando Torres.

“When we went 2-0 down, 10 men, with the reshuffle, I thought this could be the worst night of my footballing life. I’m honestly thinking towards double figures. I’d spent the first 20 minutes getting nowhere near Xavi and Iniesta. It’s not a joke, it sounds funny, but it’s not a joke. I just didn’t see it. If we didn’t score just before half-time, which changed our feeling.

“I hardly got past my 18-yard box in the second half, we couldn’t even get up to people, if you got up to Iniesta he’d just go past you! It was a real dig in scenario. It’s easy said now, because we had Bayern at their own ground, but at the same time, when those things happen, in a game you have no right to win, then you do feel it’s written in the stars.”

Underdogs in Munich

Bayern, who had beaten Real Madrid in the semi-final, were favourites to win the final at their own ground, but Chelsea had other plans. Another reshuffled Chelsea side pulled off a miracle.

Going behind late on to Thomas Muller’s header, Didier Drogba brilliantly equalised at the death, before Petr Cech’s penalty save from Arjen Robben in extra-time. It then went to penalties; Lampard scored his, and Drogba scored the winning spot kick after Bayern had missed twice. Cue “chaos”.

“We were aware of being underdogs, and missing huge players. Robbie Di Matteo called us in for a pre-game meeting, and he actually had videos of all our family members sending good luck messages, whether it was our kids, or grans, wives, mothers, we sat there and it was tear after tear, emotion after emotion, and I thought it was amazing team management from Robbie.

“But we had something about us, and obviously we had the King in Didier. He came up with a header that nobody I think in world football could have scored, and then the winning penalty.

“Didier became a different person in those games leading up to the final. Even in the warm-up, he was caged, and that confidence rubbed off on those around him. That’s why he’s a Premier League great. He scored goals at the right moment to win you games.

“When Cech saved Robben’s penalty, I thought: ‘This could seriously be it.’ I was nervous stepping up for my penalty, and Manuel Neuer looked huge in the goal, with his arms up. I thought: ‘Side to side he’ll get this’ so I went straight for his face hoping he’d move out of the way! Straight down the middle.

“Out-of-body moment is the best way to describe it. I never felt the crowd at that point, but I did feel the pressure of the situation. It becomes a bit about you at that point.

“When Didier scored, it was chaos. The best night of my footballing life. It was an incredible night. For many a year, we’d be trying to win it, we’d lost finals, semi-finals, and it felt like the last chance for this group.

Terry in full kit – ‘He can wear what he wants!’

Captain John Terry, suspended for the final, was mocked for wearing his full Chelsea kit for the celebrations at the Allianz Arena, but Lampard says a man of Terry’s stature can wear whatever he wants…

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Premier League want Liverpool stars to get title celebration despite coronavirus protocols

The Premier League have vowed to do everything they can to give Liverpool a proper chance to celebrate winning the league. If, as expected, the Merseyside club end a 30-year title drought by lifting the Premier League trophy for the first time there were fears that the spectator ban and need for social distancing would make it a disappointingly muted affair.

However, having been so close on a number of times before, the Premier League want to recognise fully Liverpool’s achievement in building such an unprecedented lead over their peers – with 25 points separating them and reigning champions Manchester City in the table.

The Reds are two wins away from a long-awaited title triumph with nine games of the season left to play.

Guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus within the league will include no tackling and disinfected pitches upon the return to training, with a number of protocols also in place for when matches return, with substitutes likely to wear masks and no hand-to-hand contact allowed.

But the league still want to preserve the normality of a title win for Liverpool, who have gone so long without winning England’s major domestic prize.

“If at all possible, we would like to have a presentation to give the players and staff the moment they have worked so hard for,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said.

“We don’t want to lose that, unless it is not possible.

“We are focused on finishing the 2019-20 season, but we also have to plan for all eventualities.”

Liverpool will not get a bus parade as they did when they won the Champions League last season, with 750,000 fans turning out on the streets of the city.

And there is a possibility that even if they win the league again in 2020-21, they may not get one next year either – dependent on how quickly a vaccine can be created and distributed.”You have to finish the Premier League in the best way possible – on the field.”


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The Premier League medical adviser Mark Gillett said: “I think the feeling is that certainly in terms of a vaccine and everybody becoming immune and the vaccine being distributed, I don’t think any expert is saying that’s going to happen in the next few months.

“So certainly in terms of social distancing and the new normal which is the phrase that everyone uses and that cultural change we are asking footballers to make, I think we are going to have to be facing that for the foreseeable future so I think that’s an important point to get across.”

The league has warned clubs that the league’s new protocols – which include matches being held behind closed doors – may have to stay in place for as long as 12 months.

The current campaign is still not certain to be completed although clubs have voted for a return to non-contact training.

And Masters admits the league look to ensure matches between Arsenal and Manchester City and Aston Villa and Sheffield United are prioritised in the future schedule.

All of the English top flight’s other 16 clubs have played the same amount of matches – 29.

And if the league can manage to level the number of games played, it would help them to determine the final standings on a points per game basis if the campaign has to be abandoned in the future.

Masters added: “I don’t think it will work quite like that but it is a relatively normal occurrence at this stage of the season that there are a number of matches that have to be played.

“But I think it is a good idea to prioritise games to be played first, relatively early in the schedule.”

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, meanwhile, has a request if the Reds return to Anfield to play their final matches of the season.

“It’s going to be very strange and we will have to accept playing in Anfield without fans, without ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ although I hope they don’t put it on the speaker,” the goalkeeper told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“In the end we are professionals and we have to take that step forward and like everyone we have to adapt to the new reality.

“We were four [sic] points away from winning the Premier League and the season came to a halt, and it came at a time when we experienced a painful episode of being eliminated from the Champions League.

“But we can’t forget the season we have had since August, we are 25 points clear of Manchester City which is a lot. We are very eager to clinch the much-desired Premier League title.

“You have to finish the Premier League in the best way possible – on the field.”

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Premier League clubs vote in favour of a return to training THIS WEEK

Premier League clubs vote to return to training TOMORROW as Project Restart gets the go-ahead… but stars will only be allowed to work in groups of five and with social distancing rules in place

  • Premier League clubs have voted for a return to group training later this week 
  • A vote was held on Monday following discussions between players and officials
  • Stars will be able to work together in small groups but no contact is allowed
  • Officials hope to resume games in June but season may not finish until August 
  • Training restrictions are expected to be eased as Project Restart is ramped up
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Premier League clubs have voted for a return to training this week in a much-needed boost to Project Restart following weeks of talks. 

Players at a number of top-flight clubs are already back training individually, but they will now be allowed to work together in groups of five from Tuesday as long as social distancing rules are followed.

Premier League officials needed at least 14 positive votes to press ahead with phase one of the return to training, in which all contact between players is banned.

Players will be allowed to train in small groups from this week but no contact will be permitted

And during a video conference call involving all 20 clubs on Monday morning, it was agreed that it was safe for players to return to action amid the coronavirus crisis. 

A number of clubs will test players and staff for the disease on Monday with a view to returning to training on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Clubs have told their players their results should be available 24 hours after their tests. 

A return to training was discussed by clubs, managers, players and officials from the Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers’ Association last week.

Every player who returns to training will need to provide written confirmation that they have received and agree to their club’s Covid-19 operational policy.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho is desperate to return to training and wants to resume the season

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has played a key role in talks with Premier League officials

Each club must also appoint a dedicated ‘Covid-19 officer’ who is not a member of their medical staff to oversee player and staff safety during the return to training and when the campaign restarts.

The Premier League hope to resume games in the second half of June, although they are willing to extend the season until the end of August in order to complete it. 

Although the majority of players are expected back this week, some managers are likely to be without stars who have concerns about returning to contact training, or who live with family members who are vulnerable to coronavirus.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday morning, Watford captain Troy Deeney explained how training rules are likely to be eased in the coming weeks.

He said: ‘Phase one is social distancing individual training with a coach. That’s no problem, that’s like going to the park. Phase two will be next week six days of training three to six people training together with contact and then six days after that you’re going into 11 versus 11 and you can’t social distance with 11 verus 11.

‘I would say 98 per cent [of players] are very much aware that phase one is very good, I would say 65-70 per cent of people are concerned with phase two. I’d say even higher after that.’ 

Watford captain Troy Deeney has hit out at the Premier League’s plans for Project Restart

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