English Premiership

Going to the supermarket more dangerous than football - Newcastle boss

Steve Bruce (Getty Images)
Steve Bruce (Getty Images)

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce believes going to the supermarket or petrol station could pose a greater a risk of coronavirus than a return to football given the strict measures put in place to protect players.

However, Bruce warned his squad could "fall down like a pack of cards" with injuries if they are not given enough preparation time to get back up to speed before matches restart.

The UK government gave the go ahead for sport behind closed doors from June 1 this week.

Newcastle last played on 7 March and Bruce believes his players will not be fit to return until the end of June.

The Premier League is reportedly hoping for a restart on 12 June.

"You have to remember that they have had eight weeks off and that is probably the longest break some of these players have had in their careers," he told the Sunday Telegraph.

"If we were doing pre-season, we would have six weeks and probably have six friendly games to get them ready for the first league match.

"We need enough preparation 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."

Germany's Bundesliga became the first of Europe's top five leagues to return on Saturday with a series of measures including regular testing, disinfected balls and substitutes wearing masks to protect players.

Premier League clubs are hoping for a return to socially distanced training on Tuesday once a protocol of safety measures has been signed off at a meeting on Monday.

"Certainly, the measures being put in place, you're probably more at risk going to the supermarket or putting petrol in your car," added Bruce.

"We are in a fortunate position, we can get tested every three days.

"We will be tested on Sunday, every player and every member of staff. Once we get the results back, if everybody is OK, we are pencilled to start training again at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon."

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is one of a number of high-profile players to have expressed concerns over the risks players could face on their return to contact training and games.

The England international echoed Bruce's call to give players the time they need back in training before pressing ahead with competitive matches.

"You can't come back in with one-and-a-half or two weeks (of training)," Sterling told his YouTube channel.

"You'd need a full four to five weeks, especially if you're going to go back into competition, when you're literally paid to win. You do need to do that preparation -- you can't just go straight in."

Championship sides are hoping to return to training on 25 May, but former England captain Wayne Rooney said he had barely been consulted as skipper of Derby County and that players were more fearful of the consequences a return to playing could have on their families.

"The concern is not so much for ourselves, like whether you might pick up an injury, but more about bringing coronavirus home and infecting those around us. People's lives are at risk," Rooney told the Sunday Times.

"Something that has surprised me is how little our opinions seem to count.

"The Premier League engaged with players via the managers and captains. But as club captain at Derby, I have not received so much as a phone call from the EFL (English Football League) or PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) to ask how Derby's players feel about returning."