It was confirmed by the Premier League on Monday that all clubs had unanimously voted to return to small-group training, in a step towards restarting the matchday schedule when safe to do so.
Step one of the ‘Return to Training Protocol’ enables squads to work while keeping a safe distance, with strict medical rules ensuring everyone returns in the safest environment possible. This first phase has been agreed in consultation with all Premier League players, managers, club doctors, independent experts and, of course, the government.
As you can see in our exclusive photos, captured while maintaining social distancing, the coaching staff and players were all smiles as they saw each other in person for the first time in months.
Check them out in the gallery below…
RESPECTING THE GUIDELINES
Since the lockdown began in late March, the players have been completing regular workouts from home with advice from fitness staff, either as individuals or in larger groups via video conferencing.
While this has been an effective way of maintaining fitness, nothing compares to the real thing and morale was clearly high throughout Wednesday’s return to a vibrant – and different – Aon Training Complex.
Club captain Harry Maguire was delighted to see his team-mates again following a two-month period of isolation, and has spoken to us about the first session back.
“It’s so good to be back just around the lads, even though we are maintaining the social distance and respecting the guidelines,”
says Harry, in an exclusive interview you can read later today.
“It’s nice just to go through the gates and to head back to Carrington, get on the pitches, put the boots back on and appreciate how good the pitches are.”
A MASSIVE STEP FORWARD
In his latest diary entry, published on Tuesday, Luke Shaw looked forward to a return to training and football hopefully coming back as well. “We’ve known for around a week that it was a possibility, but United have had to make it the safest possible environment for all the players and staff.
“We’ll still social distance throughout, we’ll arrive in our training gear and shower when we get home. The rules have to be really strict but we’re obviously all going to stick to them just to make sure things run as smoothly and safely as possible.
United forward Daniel James at the Aon Training Complex on Wednesday.
“I think we’re all determined to do things properly because we’re all looking forward to getting back on a proper pitch! Running down at the park is okay, but obviously it isn’t ideal.
“We have to do our work, keep fit and it’ll be nice to be around different people and see the boys again for a bit longer. It’s a massive step forward to get on the same training pitch as each other.”