London: Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has lauded the Premier League's safety protocols after returning to training at the Merseyside club's Melwood facilities on Wednesday.
English soccer was halted in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic but clubs can train in small groups as part of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’, which envisages a return to play in June.
“I feel very comfortable with all the measures the Premier League and the club have put in place, along with all my other team mates,” Henderson, 29, told Sky Sports.
“We’ve had meetings and questions as captains over the last week or so, but ultimately, I think the Premier League and clubs are doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible.
“The testing, the temperature control, the social distancing and the disinfecting of everything has been a really high level since we came back.”
The league confirmed on Tuesday that six people from three different clubs had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Watford’s Troy Deeney and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante opted out of training citing health concerns after Britain’s statistics office said black men are 4.2 times more likely to die from Covid-19-related causes than white males.
Henderson said he fully respects their decisions and would support his team mates if they felt the same way.
“I think everybody is in a different situation with their family and at home. Ultimately, if you don’t feel comfortable or safe, you shouldn’t feel forced or pressured to come into work,” Henderson added.
“I fully respect the lads... and I hope that they respect my opinion and that of the other players who have come back.
Liverpool were 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and two wins away from their first top-flight title since 1990 when the season was halted.
Meanwhile, Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has said he felt “so safe” on his return to training at the club’s facilities in Carrington on Wednesday.
“It’s been a strange few months, but it has been a protocol which the club has followed. It seems such a safe environment,” centre back Maguire, 27, told Man United’s website.
“It’s our first day back today, but it seems so safe and everyone is respecting it so well, so long may that continue and I’m sure no one will have any problems.”
The league confirmed on Tuesday that six people from three different clubs had tested positive for Covid-19.
Maguire believes United are going to great lengths to ensure the well-being of players and staff, with temperature checks carried out each morning and training conducted in 30-minute slots, with a different coach in charge of each segment.
“The safety, it seems really well organised. Like you said, we all got tested before we came in, so everyone in the changing room has a negative test,” the England defender added.
“There are a lot fewer people at the training ground. Today I was in a group of four, working with one coach, so not many people.”
“It’s the first step. We’re in phase one, let’s get through this phase without any troubles. It’s only the first day, but it’s been a good start for me.”
Manchester United were fifth in the Premier League with 45 points, three behind fourth-placed Chelsea when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
n Clubs in the lower divisions of the English Football League (EFL) will still be promoted or relegated if the 2019-20 season is curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the EFL said yesterday.
The EFL board said they had finalised a draft framework that would be adopted into its regulations in the event of a division ending their season, saying a 51pc majority is required to curtail the season in any division.
League Two (fourth-tier) clubs in England unanimously voted to end their season last week while League One (third-tier) clubs failed to reach an agreement over ending their season.
Championship (second-tier) clubs will vote this week on how to conclude the season.
“Resuming the 2019-20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective,” the EFL said in a statement.