Training is halted: Preston North End squad maintaining fitness levels at home

Preston North End’s players have been given time away from the training ground as the football authorities try and plan when the season can resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 6:00 am

The squad trained in the early part of last week before being handed a few days off .

They now aren’t due back in training until April 6, with them given fitness programmes to do at home in the meantime.

That is in line with what most clubs are doing, the medical advice being to social distance to try and slow the spread of Covid-19.

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Paul Gallagher and his fellow Preston team-mates will be training from home

An early April return to training will be under constant review, as is when the season could possibly resume.

Media reports yesterday indicated the Premier League could target a June 1 return in the hope of finishing the season in the six weeks after that – including the FA Cup being played to a finish.

That timetable would see next season being able to start reasonably promptly and meet broadcast obligations.

Whether the EFL would look at a similar timescale or need an earlier start because of the play-offs, remains to be seen. At the moment things are very much at the planning stage.

Peter Ridsdale, advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, gave the Lancashire Post an update on the situation with the North End players.

Ridsdale said: “They are now off for the next two weeks and then we’ll take things from there.

“Every player has got their individual fitness programme to work from which the fitness coach has put together.

“At the moment we are looking at the players being in on April 6 but obviously we have to keep everything under review.”

Whenever it is that the season gets going again, clubs will need to build their players back to full match fitness.

The current shutdown could well last longer than a typical summer break, so some kind of pre-season programme could have to be put in place.

Ridsdale said: “In effect the players would be doing pre-season training because this will turn into quite a long break.

“We’d probably have to play two or three friendlies behind closed doors to get sharpness back.

“The planning for when the season starts will all have been done in conjunction with advice from the Government.”

If the campaign did get going in May or June, there would only be a short break before the start of next season.

That is a necessity football has to face during what is a global crisis. Sticking to the traditional schedule is simply a no-go, the world of sport having to be flexible.