Premier League clubs unanimously APPROVE plan to resume ‘Phase Two’ full contact training that allows ‘tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact’ in biggest step forward for Project Restart yet
- A Wednesday has approved the resumption of contact training at clubs
- Last week, players returned to individual training and a Covid-19 testing system
- A step up in training intensity means a return to matches is now a step closer
Premier League clubs have approved a return to contact training in a significant step forward for Project Restart.
Talks were held between clubs on Tuesday, overseen by new chairman Gary Hoffman, and it is believed that no major issues were raised over the protocol. The decision was unanimous and 14 clubs were needed to approve the plans for them to be passed.
Players returned to individual training last week where a widespread testing regime was rolled out across all Premier League clubs. That plan will remain in plays and players will still be tested twice a week.
So far, Premier League stars have been keeping their distance in individual training sessions
But after Wednesday’s vote, a return to action has become a step closer to being reality
The 20 sides have carefully organised the arrival of players and the layout of training in order to maintain social distancing standards.
There have only been a handful of positive tests – Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale are the notable players.
Wednesday’s vote means that the Premier League is looking at a June restart, although the initial June 12 date that was mooted now appears unlikely.
Friday, June 26 appears more and more likely to be the date competitive action begins again behind closed doors.
There is also an increasing likelihood that matches will be played at venues across the country rather than at neutral grounds.
Tottenham talisman Harry Kane will soon be competing among his team-mates in training
Manchester United’s team will now soon be returning to closer contact training
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, has thrown his backing to the idea.
I hope games can be played at their own venues. I think if that can be done, a lot of people’s complaints will probably be gone.
‘The neutral venues, it would have been very hard to manage. Hopefully this is a much better solution if agreed by everyone.’
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has backed Project Restart ahead of Wednesday’s vote
So, aside from the obvious, how much will things change for players who have been training individually for the last week or so? Sportsmail explains…
TRAIN FOR AS LONG AS YOU WANT
The new guidelines from the Premier League say that there is no longer a time limit over training sessions.
For the time being, individual training lasts 75 minutes but now the vote has passed, players can be involved in group training for as long as clubs want.
11 v 11 TRAINING
Full-on practice matches are still set to be a short while away for players at present.
Guidelines say that players should gradually return to group training, initially in twos and threes, before that number then expands.
So 11v11 training will be happening in due course, but not immediately.
There will still be a short amount of time before Raheem Sterling and City are in 11v11 matches
TACKLE AND PASS
The main purpose of a return to contact training is to condition players for the resumption of competitive action. And conditioning is just as much something to protect players from injury as it is to help perform at the highest standard.
That means that, albeit tentatively, clubs will be looking to recreate the intensity of a match to help their players reach as strong a fitness level as possible.
It may sound basic, and it is, but it is a small yet significant step. Another way for players to ramp up their level of sharpness is to play with their team-mates. Passing and shooting drills form a part of tactical work, so it is a key factor that allows managers to plot for how they want their team to play.
Contact between players around training sessions themselves is still to be heavily restricted
The government guidelines to all of this are key, and are what the Premier League protocols are anchored around.
Part of those guidelines say that close contact training involves ‘close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing’.
But it is understood club protocols ensure will ensure that when it comes to equipment, shared use is still something that will be avoided wherever possible.
It is something we have already seen not just in England but in Germany, with balls used for training and matches being sprayed with disinfectant.
They also say any training equipment, such as mannequins, must be disinfected after each use. They also encourage throw-ins to be limited as much as possible, to lessen the number of players touching the ball with their hands.
Balls used in training – and soon, matches – sprayed with disinfectant to prevent contamination
WARM UP TOGETHER
Players will be allowed to go through warm-ups almost as a complete squad. Guidelines say that groups of 18 players, with two-metre social distancing rules in place, are fine to undertake stretching as a team.
Government advice rates each exercise on a points system in terms of risk and a squad exercising with the correct distance between them is deemed low.
ALLOW LONG DRINKS BREAKS
Interestingly, guidelines provided to clubs have urged them to consider how they organise drinks breaks.
Competitive club action at this time of year is unusual – players are usually on pre-season breaks or gearing up for international tournaments. Training to rebuild fitness in the heat means breaks for water and refuelling are imperative.
But it is understood that during such a time, players usually tend to mingle in groups. This is something the government is keen to avoid – just because contact training is allowed in the throes of sport, it does not mean that two-metre social distancing rules are completely void now.
Guidance given to clubs is so precise, players will be told how to behave during a drinks break
LIMIT CONTACT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Guidelines are really clear on this – while contact is now allowed, it doesn’t mean social distancing is over. Immense care has to be provided by clubs with how players arrive for training and how they are in contact with each other in the moments before and after a session.
Bibs are often used in training sessions for team activities or even simple drills like rondo.
Players will be told that bibs are not to be passed around the squad and will be distributed by a coach wearing PPE gloves. They will then be washed immediately after use from a player to lower risks of cross-contmaination as much as possible.
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