• Quote: ‘Getting players switched back on mentally – along with getting their bodies ready physically – is going to be a tough job’

By Andrew Atkinson

The EFL will return to training from May 25 after the UK Government’s approval in the midst of the 2019-20 season coming to a halt due to coronavirus lockdown.

At a meeting of the EFL on May 13 fingers were pointed at certain Championship clubs – allegedly breaking protocol rules – with accusations made some had returned to training during lockdown.

Heated talks flared up with Championship bosses reportedly accusing certain clubs for holding group training sessions – without the EFL’s approval.

None of the clubs confessed to the accusations of holding private group training sessions before being allowed.

However the EFL reminded clubs that they are not allowed to re-establish group training – until May 25 at the earliest.

Leeds and WBA are in automatic promotion places, with Fulham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End in play-off spots.

Preston North End are sixth in the table, aiming to bag the overall £100m promotion package to reach the Premier League.

“After two months of COVID-19 restrictions we are looking forward to get back,” said Deepdale boss Alex Neil, ready to return to training at their Springfields training HQ.

Neil will have to wait another week to return to training with his Championship squad after a meeting with the English Football League giving a green light to return on May 25.

“We were working on the basis to return to training on May 16, moved due to everything having to be put in place,” said Neil.

“However it is good to know when we are back – I hope it is not going to change again,” said Neil.

“Given the time frame we are really limited of getting the season completed, but we are looking forward to getting back,” said Neil, who took Norwich City to the Premier League during his time at The Canaries.

“It is approximately eight weeks since we trained. That’s the most I remember a player having off – that’s a difficulty in itself,” said Neil.

“With the uncertainty, naturally as a player you switch off. When the season is ongoing and you have big games coming up, mentally you need to prepare for them.

“Getting players switched back on mentally – along with getting their bodies ready physically – is going to be a tough job.

“Especially with the restrictions in the first week or so of training. At present we are being advised there will be no friendlies, leading into games.

“That is very unusual – being off for so long – and not having any sort of friendly matches, insofar to get match fit.”

Caption: Alex Neil: no friendly games allowed by EFL.


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