Steve Bruce has become the first manager in the top flight to speak out against the return of the Premier League on June 12th.
In an exclusive with The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards, Bruce highlighted players fitness as a major issue if the league was to be rushed back at the start of June, calling on a return to be delayed by ‘at least’ three weeks.
He becomes the first manager to speak out against Project Restart, after high profile names like Sergio Aguero and our own Danny Rose have also expressed concerns.
Here’s what he’s had to say:
“We’ve listened to what has been said and, with the precautions taken, we will get back to work and start phase one,”
“Can we get to that stage where we can have all the players on the pitch together? We don’t know yet.
“Phase one will be mainly fitness work, four or five players on a pitch. Let’s see how we get on [and hope there are no infections].
“We need enough preparation time to get these players into shape or they are just going to fall down like a pack of cards.
“Most of the managers have the same concerns.
“We would need at least six weeks.
“I don’t see how we can play games until the back end of June.”
A lot of noise in the media has been made about whether players should be allowed to stay at home if they wish to, something that Bruce feels they shouldn’t be criticised for. He added:
“If a player refuses to come in or play, I have sympathy for that and would understand it.
“Most of my players are happy with it.
“There was a captain’s meeting the other day as well and as a squad they are happy with the measures that are being put in place.
“You have to respect everybody’s personal views on it.”
While clubs will be allowed to make five substitutions in an effort to help with players fitness, the condensation of the fixture list will see teams play games every three or possibly even two days apart.
You would think a professional footballer would be able to peel himself off the settee and have a game of football in him, but the intensity and frequency of the league could see injuries happen.
Money is ultimately the main driving force behind a return, but what price do you put on players safety and well-being?