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Coronavirus: Premier League players told they’re not ‘guinea pigs’ if season resumes next month

Premier League players have been told by medics that training is no more risky than a trip to the shops.

Speaking via teleconference on Wednesday, medical experts assured players they wouldn’t be “used as guinea pigs” as the football season prepares for a possible phased return next month.

They were told their cases would also be treated on an individual basis and would not be threatened with postponing to next year should they not sign up for the plans, dubbed “Project Restart“.

Dialling into the call, the captains of each Premier League team raised a number of issues, which Sky News was told were among a series of “probing, incisive and informed” questions put to the league’s medical adviser Mark Gillett, and other government medical advisers.

Such issues included the increased risk for severe effects of COVID-19 for BAME players and the additional risk for players living with young children and elderly relatives.

“The players were incredibly well informed and asked full, probing and incisive questions which they will then feed back to their teammates,” Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor said.

He added: “Every effort is being made in these testing times to make it as safe as is practically and humanly possible. It can never be 100% safe, but it’s about making the level of risk small as possible.”

All the players were given a 40-page document ahead of the meeting, which detailed what an initial phase of returning to training would look like.

The conference call was then held to help understand and reassure safety concerns from a growing number of high-profile players, including Manchester City stars Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero.

Mr Taylor said: “They asked questions about the supermarket thing and they were told by the medical experts that, according to the Premier League’s plans, they think training will be as safe a haven as possible and that it would compare well to other things in the community.

“They were reassured that with construction and manufacturing being back that it wasn’t football players being used as guinea pigs.”

Among the guidance for a proposed restart, players will be advised to wear a mask or snood during training, and would be subject to a COVID-19 test twice a week.

They will also be required to travel to training alone, and park their car three spaces away from the nearest vehicle.

Training will only be permitted in small groups for a maximum of 75 minutes, while any injuries will be treated by a physio wearing full PPE.

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