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Millwall boss Gary Rowett: Some clubs have already gambled on fact season won’t resume in early April

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Millwall resumed training yesterday – with manager Gary Rowett saying that some other football clubs have gambled that the domestic football season will not restart on April 3.

The Lions are due to return to Championship action on April 4 at Charlton Athletic.

But an EFL board meeting yesterday only stated an intent to finish the campaign and did not provide further clarification on whether that start date was still viable.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the closure of UK schools by the end of this week and there has been talk of lockdown measures being taken in London to slow the spread of the illness.

“The players trained yesterday and in fairness in a difficult situation their mentality was really, really good,” said Rowett. “Like for most people it did them some good to get out for a couple of hours and let off a bit of steam and get some fresh air.

“We’ve isolated them a little bit in training. We’ve had four or five in different changing rooms – that has given them a little bit of space – and their temperatures have been taken before we train. If their temperature was high we’d send them straight home.

“I’ve spoken to the players and said we don’t want to put you and your family at risk, that’s the main concern. We’re taking these steps and doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible.

“I’m sure some kids are still at school at the moment and I’m sure people will still be at the shops. There are no government guidelines saying you can’t do it.

“We came in yesterday to train and we’re coming in today to train. We’re in tomorrow to train. I think we’ll have a look and we might let them go home Saturday and bring them back in a day earlier.

“It’s until someone tells us we’re not playing on April 3 – I know a lot of clubs are gambling on that fact. Some have given two weeks off.

“It’s not for us to tell anyone else how to do things. But our mindset is that if we’re back playing on April 3 in some capacity then we at least need to be ready.

“As long as the players are safe and we’re taking sensible precautions, I don’t think there is much else we can do.

“It is difficult to speculate but my gut feeling is that it’s going to be difficult for us to come back and play from April 3. I think it’s going to be unlikely at the moment.

“The difficult bit for us is what do you do – let the players be off until April 2 and the suddenly you do play on April 3? There is then a huge risk of injury and not being able to perform. It’s a really difficult scenario.

“I get at the minute that there is a bigger picture than sport and football but I also get that football and sport plays a huge factor for the community and peoples’ lives. It’s also important from that aspect as well.

“I’ve heard so many ways of potentially restarting the season, whether that is in May or behind closed doors. I was hearing about a tournament-style where teams are in lockdown in a hotel. I’ve not heard anything that is an ideal plan – but I don’t think we’ve got an ideal plan.”

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