Crystal Palace plan an imminent return to training – with social distancing

By Andrew McSteen

Crystal Palace players are due to return to their Beckenham training base very soon – but only individually, and to work on running and basic fitness – the South London Press understands.

The next stage of re-opening the training ground after individual work will see squad members work in groups – but observe social distancing.

Any full re-opening of the club’s Beckenham training ground would be in accordance with Premier League guidelines.

Palace chairman Steve Parish is expected, along with other Premier League shareholders, to discuss a possible date of the resumption of the league as part of the ‘Project Restart’ at their next meeting, scheduled to take place this Friday. The Eagles have nine games remaining, four at Selhurst Park and five away.

It follows the news that fellow London Premier League sides Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham have returned to limited training this week, amid tight restrictions.

The Eagles closed their training ground on March 16, initially “as a precautionary measure for one week,” according to a statement from Parish. It has remained closed, so the club sent fitness bikes and gym equipment to players to keep fit – and put them on personal training programmes – and to manager Roy Hodgson.

The manager has been in constant touch with his playing squad and coaching staff. Players have been reporting to Palace’s backroom team with updates and Hodgson has been watching videos and getting his players’ feedback, but admitted earlier this month to the Crystal Palace website that his squad was “physically fit” and not “football fit”, before adding; “The ideal contact will come when we can all meet up at the training ground in whatever form that’s likely to take – any other form of contact isn’t comparable.”

The South London Press also understands that no Palace staff have been furloughed as the club waits to see what happens with a possible league resumption – Parish, days after lockdown, stated he would ensure matchday casual staff employed for the four remaining home games are “not disadvantaged financially.”

He also said he would not place any staff on statutory sick pay for health issues relating to COVID-19 throughout the whole crisis.

Hodgson, 72, according to government guidelines is at ‘increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19)’, so should ‘be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

But the club is confident he will be able to work and that, with the Premier League, a common-sense solution will be found.

At the daily UK Government press conference on April 16, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK will remain under the current restrictions at least until Thursday 7 May. The UK Government has set up a working group on the return of sport, with Premier League football one of those being considered.

  • The fate of fixtures for the Under 18 and Under 23 sides is still to be made with no decision forthcoming relating to the Crystal Palace Women’s fixtures, which were initially suspended until “at least April 4”.

Pictured: Palace U23s against Hull last August at Palace’s Beckenham training ground

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