After Premier League clubs unanimously voted to move to the second phase in their return to training following the football season pause, we outline everything you need to know about this latest development and what work at Cobham might look like now…
Frank Lampard and his players have been back at their Surrey base for the past week, although training has largely been limited to fitness work in small groups, in line with the Premier League’s Return to Training Protocol and UK Government guidelines on social distancing.
Premier League shareholders voted on Wednesday to move the training return into the second phase, which means more conventional work with the whole squad will be permitted, albeit in a staged approach. The emphasis remains on minimising any unnecessary close contact as much as possible.
When did Chelsea first return to training?
The Blues arrived back at Cobham last Tuesday 19 May for the beginning of Phase One training. The players were split into small groups, each led by one coach, for running and stretching exercises.
Some ball work has been added in recent days but social distancing rules have been strictly adhered to.
What is Phase Two training?
Guidelines on this next stage were published by the UK Government at the start of the week and advise on how elite athletes and sports teams can introduce restricted contact training over the coming days and weeks.
The official advice states that ‘stage two training can be described as the resumption of close contract (interaction within the two-metre social distancing boundary) training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact.’
The emphasis is on a staged approach, progressing from work between groups of four then 12 before ultimately full team training. Coaching and tackling within the two-metre distance is permitted, although current social distancing rules will apply at all times apart from during technical training.
Each training session is to be risk-assessed beforehand to minimise the level of interaction between players and the length of time they spend in close proximity to one another.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has said: ‘This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved.’
How long do the training sessions last?
Previously, the duration of sessions was capped at 75 minutes, with a further 15 minutes permitted for players to access treatment.
While no new guidelines have been set out on this, Government guidance regarding social distancing in the workplace suggests that where close contact is essential, it should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible. Therefore, practices that require closer contact are likely to be limited in duration.
How important is testing?
Testing has been a vital part of the safe return to training, offering reassurance to both players and staff during an uncertain time. All those present at training are tested for COVID-19 every few days and results so far have indicated low levels of infection; eight positive cases have been confirmed so far from a total of 1,744 tests.
When will the Premier League restart?
A return to competitive match action is expected to form the basis of phase three discussions, although no restart date has yet been confirmed by the Premier League, who have insisted the competition will only resume when it is safe to do so.
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