Stoke City’s players returned to training this morning – after much work behind the scenes by the club.
The players are back for the first time in 73 days, but the set up is very different as the club ensures they are able to comply with the government guildelines about coronavirus.
Chief executive Tony Scholes explained: “It has been an organisational challenge to prepare the training ground and for the manager and coaching staff over the past few days to organise training.
“Players are arriving separately, five at a time, at intervals of half an hour and the training ground has been split into five distinct different areas. No one will be allowed in an adjacent area to make sure everyone keeps at a distance.
“Everyone has had another swab test before coming into the training ground, having already had a test over the previous couple of days. We’ll be testing twice a week.
“That is on top of the temperature screening and health checks that we’ll carry out every day. Health and safety remains the absolute priority.”
Championship and Premier League clubs are hoping they can follow the example of the Bundesliga in Germany which has resumed football with games behind closed doors.
The top two divisions in England could resume in June, but League Two clubs have already agreed to abandon their remaining fixtures. League One have still to decide whether to try to play on or follow the example of the bottom division and settle league placings on points-per-game average of the matches played so far.
Stoke City were 17th, with nine games to play, when the Championship season was suspended in mid-March. They were rock bottom of the table when Michael O’Neill was appointed in November but the former Northern Ireland manager had steered City to three points clear of the relegation zone when the season was put on hold.