Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has warned that Premier League sides could quickly pile up lengthy injury lists if they aren’t afforded ‘at least six weeks’ preparation.
June 12th has been suggested as a potential date for Premier League action to resume, though delays to the resumption of training has led to suggestions that it could be pushed back by a week to June 19.
However, with top-flight footballers having been unable to fully train since mid-March, Steve Bruce has warned that players are ‘going to fall down like a pack of cards’ if they aren’t given ‘at least’ six weeks of preparation, with sides now due to return next week after being tested for COVID-19.
“We’ve listened to what has been said and, with the precautions taken, we will get back to work and start phase one,” Bruce told Telegraph. “Can we get to that stage where we can have all the players on the pitch together? We don’t know yet.
“Phase one will be mainly fitness work, four or five players on a pitch. Let’s see how we get on [and hope there are no infections].
“You have to remember that they have had eight weeks off and that is probably the longest break some of these players have had in their careers.
“If we were doing pre-season, we would have six weeks and probably have six friendly games to get them ready for the first league match. So, we need a good stretch of time here to get them ready. Certainly once we get into stage two, that is vitally important.
“We need enough preparation time to get these players into shape or they are just going to fall down like a pack of cards. Most of the managers have the same concerns. We would need at least six weeks. I don’t see how we can play games until the back end of June.”
Earlier this week, Newcastle‘s on-loan left-back Danny Rose described the Premier League’s restart plans as b*llocks, and Bruce said that he would ‘understand’ if any of his players were to refuse to return to training due to safety concerns.
“Everybody has their own set of circumstances and you have to take that into account,” Bruce added. “But, certainly, the measures being put in place, you’re probably more at risk going to the supermarket or putting petrol in your car. We are in a fortunate position, we can get tested every three days.
“We will be tested on Sunday, every player and every member of staff. Once we get the results back, if everybody is OK, we are pencilled to start training again at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.
“If a player becomes infected, he will be quarantined and will need to have two clear tests before they can come back to train. Danny Rose expressed his concerns, but I’ve spoken to him and he is coming back as well. I don’t think there is a footballer out there who has done more for the NHS throughout this than Danny.
“If a player refuses to come in or play, I have sympathy for that and would understand it. Most of my players are happy with it. There was a captain’s meeting the other day as well and as a squad they are happy with the measures that are being put in place. You have to respect everybody’s personal views on it.”