Pre-season training in late spring is a possibility if football makes a summer return

Routine and habit is off the table for footballers during the current suspension of the game due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 5:00 pm
The Preston North End squad in pre-season training last summer

When a return to action is possible – that is very much up in the air at present – how clubs prepare their players for that will be interesting.

A pre-season training schedule of some sort will have to be done.

However professionally players have looked after themselves when away from their clubs, nothing can mirror what they do on the training ground.

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Football is shutdown until April 30 and talk of it starting again in early May looks on the optimistic side.

June might be more of a realistic target but a target is all it can be at the moment.

Even the optimistic May return would have seen an eight-week break in play. A June start would push that beyond 12 weeks.

Eight weeks equates to the typical summer break for players between the end of a regular season – not those reaching the play-offs or on international duty – and the normal late June return for pre-season.

The difference when clubs resume the 2019/20 season is that players have done some limited training during the shutdown and are now on home fitness programmes.

There will have been no Dubai, Ibiza and Florida for a spot of hair letting-down.

However, you would think that two or weeks of intense fitness work will be needed, together with a couple of friendlies.

So it could be pre-season in April or May, ready for the last nine league games and possibly three more beyond that if the play-offs are reached.

Then how do you handle what is likely to be a much shortened break between the end of 2019/20 and the start of the 2020/21 campaign?

There might be as little as a month between seasons, so it might be a case of players putting their feet up for a couple of weeks and then getting straight back into it.

Holidays in the sun look a long shot at this juncture.

Preston North End have plans in place for when things get under way.

Those plans though, are a moveable feast, as PNE boss Alex Neil explained on the club’s official website.

He said: “We have knocked up a programme for the players to keep themselves ticking over. We are hoping we will be back in training before too long.

“We are well planned and well prepped; the biggest difficulty we have got is that we really need a restart date.

“That will give us a chance to then implement our plan.

“When that is continually moving and continually changing, it is difficult.

“It does alter, and depending on how many weeks it goes without us playing a game, determines how match fit the players will, or will not, be at that stage.”