Rowett hopes to be training again around mid-May – and games to restart by mid-June

Millwall already have an ideal Schedule for a return to football which they hope will come into being in the coming weeks.

Manager Gary Rowett believes it will take three weeks to train his players up properly in readiness for the return to competitive games.

He then hopes the nine matches left in the Championship season can be staged within five weeks.

That would mean the season lasting past the end of June and player contracts being extended beyond their current July 1 expiry date – assuming lockdown ends around the middle of May.

He would want next season to start in September, following four weeks of pre-season.

“Three weeks of training before we restart matches for this season would be sensible,” he said. “After two weeks, the lads could be playing 45-minute sessions – but you need three weeks to get to 90 minutes.

“Players have been working but to different degrees.

“I know there is a safety risk with the number of games which have to be played in a short time.

“But we need to get finished as soon as possible.

“So let’s get it done in four-and-a-half or five weeks. Let’s say start playing in June and finish in early July.

“That would mean pushing next season back to september so the players could still have four weeks’ break and then do four weeks of pre-season.”

Rowett also wants the sport’s two international ruling bodies, UEFA and FIFA, to come up with a unilateral directive on how to implement the necessary contract extension.

“We need a consistent decision and the only thing that makes any sense to extend deals until the end of the season,” the Lions boss said. “I know that will be difficult because clubs may want to extend some and not others – they won’t want to pay people who they want to let go.

“But case-by-case would be very hard. It would be hard to get any clarity.

“So UEFA and FIFA have to come up with an across-the-board plan. Each country is in a different situation with the virus – Belgium have voided their season.

“I think everyone understands this is an anomaly. The health of the nation takes precedent.”

Rowett haS been pleased with the way his squad has responded to separation, when their camaraderie is one of their strengths.

“We needed them to pull together and they have done,” he said. “They are calling each other and linking up on video and Zoom so they can keep the banter going. Most have missed that togetherness.

“People like the captain Alex Pearce have stepped forward but also Jed Wallace and Shaun Williams – he has set up things with the players and their partners on Zoom to keep everyone buzzing. They have been socialising a lot and that just shows what a tight group we have here.”


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