Day one of training goes well as Preston North End get back on the grass

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Preston’s players returned to work yesterday as Project Restart in the Championship begins to gather pace.

The North End squad have not been at the club’s Springfields Training Ground since the season was halted in early March on health grounds due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But under phase one of the bid to get the 2019-20 campaign up and running again, the players reported back for training along with manager Alex Neil and his backroom staff.

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All players and staff were tested for coronavirus last week – an exercise which happily indicated that nobody from the club was infected with the disease.

Peter RidsdalePeter Ridsdale
Peter Ridsdale | PA Wire

That meant they could be back on the grass at Springfields this week and they will continue to be monitored closely. In accordance with the EFL guidance, players will be tested twice a week.

At the moment all the players will be adhering to strict social distancing measures, which means there will be no contact.

They were only allowed to train in groups of five, were unable to use the club’s canteen or showering facilities and must wash their own training kit.

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Phase one is expected to last for at least a week, before contact in training will gradually begin to be allowed under phase two. The plan is to restart the season by June 20.

“The first day of training went well,” said Peter Ridsdale, who is the advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings.

“I think everybody was looking forward to getting back.

“It was obviously a nice day for it.

“We made sure that everybody followed the rules and the procedures so the players were in different groups.

“More testing was carried out and we were all very pleased with how things went. Alex Neil was delighted with it.

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“I think it was good to get that hurdle out of the way psychologically, so the players are back and raring to go.

“There’s no contact at the moment, but I am hoping it won’t be long before that changes.

“If we do intend to be back playing at some time in June, we need to get back to playing proper football and that means contact training sooner rather than later.

“But we will be taking the guidance from the EFL before that happens.”

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Ridsdale revealed that no new injuries were reported after the enforced lay-off, while long-term casualty Louis Moult is making progress but it is thought he will not be available if and when the season restarts next month.

The striker has been on the sidelines since rupturing cruciate knee ligament against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in August.