The UK government have released details of ‘phase two’ of their return-to-training protocols for the Premier League, while a “more likely” restart date has been revealed.
After a successful return to non-contact training last week, and just eight positive tests from 1,744 taken by players and staff so far, the English top flight is edging closer to its return.
Players are currently required to work in groups of no more than five, with Liverpool heading back to Melwood last Wednesday and dividing the squad loosely by position.
Now the government have issued ‘phase two’ of their protocols, which outlines the plan for a return to full-contact training.
This begins with “clusters” of two or three players working together initially, before expanding to groups as big as 12 and then eventually full team training.
Tackling is permitted within the new guidelines, following strange suggestions earlier in the month that players would be advised to ‘turn away’ when colliding with an opponent to avoid risk of infection.
Speaking on the release of ‘phase two’, sports minister Nigel Huddleston said “these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered.”
Players and managers are due to meet with the Premier League on Tuesday to discuss the plans, with the 20 clubs then set to vote on their implementation on Wednesday.
The Premier League are believed to be eager to see the return of full-contact training by the end of the week, which could now prove a realised deadline.
According to the Times, however, the initially projected date for the restart of fixtures, June 12, is not likely to be met.
Instead it will be either June 19 or, “more likely,” June 26, which would allow clubs ample time to regain fitness in a safe environment before games begin again behind closed doors.
However, expected plans to use ‘quarantine hotels’ in the week leading up to games, as has been the case in Germany, have been dropped in the latest plans from the Premier League.
This has been largely informed by the low rates of infection throughout the coronavirus tests taken so far, and the difficulties with most hotels still closed due to lockdown measures.