Football

EPL clubs vote to start contact training

English Premier League clubs voted unanimously yesterday to return to contact training, including tackling, as the English top flight moved a step closer to resumption after the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact," said an EPL statement.

Clubs began the first phase of Project Restart last week, after agreeing to return to training in groups of five, with no contact and sessions limited to only 75 minutes.

Phase Two allows up to 10 players to work together and would ease the time restrictions on training sessions and allow players to be closer.

The third phase would be a move to a more typical form of training in the build-up to actual games.

The announcement that Phase Two can commence follows extensive testing of players and staff for the coronavirus - with eight positives, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

TESTING

A third round of testing took place on Monday and Tuesday with results expected this week.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted that Ramsdale's positive test after his return to training has left everyone at the club shaken and anxious about their own test results.

Ramsdale, who was asymptomatic, had told The Sun he seemed to have caught it at a shopping trip, after testing negative in the first batch of tests.

Howe told The Daily Mail: "There was not one positive within our group during the early stages and we were comfortable and felt OK.

"But as soon as you get that one positive test, that changes the mindset of everybody. Suddenly everyone feels vulnerable, everyone is alerted to the fact that this is serious and real."

The league had signalled June 12 as a potential start date but it now looks likely to be at least a week later.

Today, EPL shareholders will discuss the business aspects of Project Restart, including a possible broadcast rebate and what to do if the season is curtailed. - REUTERS

Football