Virus tests on EPL players ahead of return-to-training talks

FILE - In this Sunday, May 6, 2018 file photo, the English Premier League trophy is displayed on the pitch prior to the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Huddersfield Town at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England. Steve Parish, the chairman of Crystal Palace, says the Premier League could face years of legal challenges if this season is not completed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MANCHESTER – After watching the Bundesliga resume, English Premier League clubs will try on Monday to agree on protocols to allow a return to training during the coronavirus pandemic.

Teams have already started checking players and coaches for the coronavirus, with a total of 1,600 weekly tests anticipated across the 20 clubs in England's top division.

With Britain suffering a worse coronavirus outbreak than Germany, the sports shutdown is yet to end and players would have to remain socially distant for now in training. But the Premier League has government backing to pursue restarting games in June if there is no new spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.

Sunday should have been the last day of the season but, instead of Liverpool completing a title triumph, coronavirus testing was taking place at clubs.

Up to 40 players and coaches at each club were due to be tested for the coronavirus across Sunday and Monday. A further wave of testing will take place across the 20 clubs later in the week in a bid to detect infections.

In recent weeks, players have only been carrying out some individual fitness work on fields at some training grounds. But the socially distant team training could start on Tuesday if the protocols are agreed on by executives from the clubs during their latest “Project Restart” conference call on Monday.

Contact training would be prohibited until approval is granted by the government, which has said games could resume in June — without fans in stadiums.

Some players and managers have expressed concern about returning to training since Britain has Europe’s highest virus death toll as well as the most confirmed cases.