The Premier League will on Tuesday hope to fully convince managers and captains of the safety of contact training, before the clubs vote on those plans for phase two of Project Restart on Wednesday.
If successful, the squads will go back to full training on Thursday.
The safety concerns of players have for the last two weeks been seen as the biggest obstacle to English football’s return, but there has been a positive shift in the last few days.
The government on Monday gave the green light to the plans permitting close contact for elite athletes in training. That followed another successful weekend of Bundesliga fixtures, the scheduled return of more major leagues like Spain’s, a low number of positive tests – just two from the latest round – and what was seen as a “positive” session to reassure players on the reported higher risk to BAME athletes of coronavirus contraction.
There is a feeling that more and more of the hurdles are being crossed and the Premier League will return in mid-June, even if the 19th is still seen as more realistic than the target date of the 12th.
Tuesday’s meeting will bring in discussion on the latest research, including a white paper by STATSports – the company who make GPS vests for the Premier League clubs – as well as Friday’s meeting on the risk to BAME players.
That involved a number of the Premier League BAME advisory group and high-profile players including Troy Deeney. The Watford captain, who has been one of the most vocal about safety concerns, is understood to have felt the meeting was productive and informative.
These were feelings echoed by Ian Wright, who sits on the advisory group.
“Friday’s session was very positive, it wasn’t the only thing discussed but it was the focus of the session. It’s rightfully being taken very seriously. We know that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are disproportionately affected by this virus. There were good reassurances presented on the playing side but also for what things need to look like away from the pitch.
“Professor Van Tam was able to explain the data and science in a way that made sense for us. Each player must still make the decision for themselves but the information presented, level of detail and expertise on the call should help them to do that.
“The next step is obviously to make sure this is communicated properly to the players and their families. We need to take this step by step.”
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