Watford striker Troy Deeney has today become the first Premier League star to announce that he has rejected his club’s call for players to return to training.
PL inching towards return
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc on events around the globe, football has of course been at a near standstill since March.
In Europe, Belarus, for almost two months, stood as the only country in which top-flight football continued to be played, with the Champions League and Europa League having also been postponed.
Recent weeks, however, have seen positive steps taken towards the resumption of a number of the continent’s top leagues.
Germany of course represents the standard-bearer as things stand, after the Bundesliga got back underway this past weekend.
In the case of England, meanwhile, though many have cast doubt over the Premier League’s return amid the country’s struggles in their fight against the coronavirus, the ultimate goal remains to see out the final weeks of the campaign.
At a meeting between Premier League shareholders earlier this month, it was reiterated that all 20 top-flight clubs intend to play their remaining fixtures.
This was followed by a key step forward in the ‘Project Restart’ process yesterday afternoon, when confirmation was forthcoming that a return to ‘small group training’ this week had been sanctioned.
Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to return to small group training from Tuesday afternoon – the first step towards restarting the Premier League, when safe to do so
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 18, 2020
‘I’m not going in’
Despite the events of recent days, and the Bundesliga proving that the resumption of football under safe circumstances is very much possible, though, many, including some players, have voiced their concerns over football in England potentially returning too soon.
Sergio Aguero, Manuel Lanzini and Danny Rose are amongst the high-profile names to have spoken up, with the latter having gone as far as to claim that he ‘doesn’t give a f**k’ about the potential impact of the Premier League’s resumption on the nation’s morale.
And, as outlined above, the latest player to have opened up on his fears regarding football getting back underway is Troy Deeney.
Watford star Deeney, however, has gone a step further than the likes of the stars mentioned above, by confirming that he has rejected the Hornets’ call to return to training this week.
Speaking in an interview on Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew’s Talk The Talk podcast, Deeney revealed that concerns over his young son’s wellbeing have left him with little choice but to remain in self-imposed lockdown:
‘We’re due back in this week. I’ve said I’m not going in. It’s nothing to do with financial gain. When I go into full detail about my personal situation, everyone here will go ‘no problem’.’
‘My son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties. I don’t want to come home and put him in more danger. You’ve got to drive in in your own kit, you can’t have showers, then drive back in the same dirty kit you’ve got.’
‘If I’m putting my clothing in with my son’s or my missus’ it’s more likely to be in the house.’
Deeney also voiced concerns over the health of BAME players:
‘Within the meeting I asked very simple questions. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and we’re twice as likely to have long lasting illnesses.’
‘Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff to see if people have got problems? No. Okay, well I feel like that should be addressed.’
Watford captain Troy Deeney has said he will not return to training this week amid concerns for his own son’s health, as well as that of BAME players.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 19, 2020
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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