The Athletic have revealed that Newcastle United have warned players they’ll face a fine should they return to the club having ‘gained weight or body fat‘ during their period of self-isolation.
It seems Steve Bruce is imposing some pre-season-style tactics in order to keep our squad in check – and rightly so given the players have been left to their own devices with personalised training plans while the season is suspended.
Here’s a snippet from Chris Waugh’s piece for the Athletic, revealing what’s been put in place behind the scenes since the Benton training base was shut down:
As soon as the Premier League suspended the season last Friday, Newcastle closed their training ground and academy, sending players and staff home. Regular deep-cleans have taken place since, with only a skeleton staff permitted on site. Initially, it was scheduled to reopen on Monday (March 30), although it is understood it will now be closed into April. Offices at St James’ Park, where employees including managing director Lee Charnley are based, have also closed.
Unlike some other clubs who continued training collectively once football shutdown, Steve Bruce’s squad were called into a meeting on Friday and told measures would be taken to minimise social contact. They were given advice from Dr Catterson, reassured to put family first and assigned individualised fitness programmes to strictly adhere to.
With each player handed a GPS watch to record their exercise and heart-rate remotely, they are effectively undertaking their own pre-season training camps in isolation. Rotherham United manager Paul Warne confirmed in his diary column for The Athletic that Newcastle even requested the League One side place on-loan midfielder Dan Barlaser in self-isolation so that every player on the club’s books is training uniformly.
Should any player return having gained body fat or weight, they risk being fined, with daily routines monitored to ensure regimes are being followed.
With football unlikely to resume imminently, sports science staff will tailor individual player plans accordingly — using data inputted to Soccer System Pro, software which allows fitness data to be analysed — to ensure core fitness levels are retained. Head of sports science Jamie Harley is in regular consultation with head physiotherapist Derek Wright and rehabilitation coach Cristian Fernandez to tweak programmes for each player where necessary.
The likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Florian Lejeune have recently posted videos of themselves training in the sunshine their back gardens, with players forced to train from home after the country went into lockdown.
The piece also revealed what players have been up to since the season was suspended and the training ground put into lockdown, with Joelinton back in Brazil, Atsu returning to Ghana….and Paul Dummett training in Jesmond Dene!
Interestingly, travel restrictions were not placed on the players, although they were warned to be “sensible and safe”. The club’s view is that family comes first and, although it may present challenges in getting some players back to Tyneside given the global grounding of flights, there is time before the campaign will resume.
Joelinton has returned to Brazil to be with his young son Neto, while Fabian Schar visited his mother in Switzerland and Christian Atsu headed to his native Ghana, where the winger has trained on Accra’s beach.
“I’m training and doing everything to keep in shape,” Atsu told the club’s website. “I know if we’re united we’re going to fight this virus and we’re going to win.”
The majority of other players have remained in the North-East. Martin Dubravka has been working out at a clinic, aided by his partner, Lucia, and physio Michael Harding, as he recovers from a recent knee injury. Allan Saint-Maximin has also been doing fitness work at home while wearing his full Newcastle kit – and by practising his trademark tricks on his daughters, Lyana and Ninhia.
Goalkeeper Rob Elliot is isolating with his family, as is defender Federico Fernandez. As for Miguel Almiron, he is supporting Paraguay’s #QuedateEnCasa (stay at home) campaign on social media, even though he is still in Newcastle with wife Alexia, where he is running on his treadmill.
Paul Dummett, who was omitted from Newcastle’s post-January squad due to a tendon problem, has been training outside at Jesmond Dene with club physios so he remains active.
With the season unlikely to resume anytime soon, let’s hope the squad can continue to follow their strict training plans and remain safe during this global crisis.
If you’re a subscriber, you can read Chris Waugh’s piece in full below: