While Premier League football has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, top-flight clubs across England are taking differing approaches to first-team training.
It was announced on Friday that the Premier League, English Football League and FA had called off all matches for the rest of this month and on Monday the UK government issued new social distancing measures that include avoiding mass gatherings and working from home where possible.
What this currently means for Premier League players who need to keep in top physical condition while they await the resumption of the season, City A.M. has learned, can vary markedly from club to club.
For Tottenham, Burnley, Southampton and Wolves, it has been business as usual this week.
None have had players require self-isolation or show symptoms of coronavirus and, as such, first-team training has continued as normal.
Tottenham are the only club in London to have continued training, although only essential staff are at the club’s Hotspur Way base in Enfield.
Burnley have called off all academy training for under-16s downwards and said they would continue to “be guided by on-going advice from the relevant authorities”.
At Wolves, all staff but the first team, including office and admin, have been told to work from home despite the club’s Chinese chairman, Jeff Shi, warning fans not to “underestimate” the virus.
Top-flight clubs in self-isolation
At the opposite end of the spectrum are Arsenal and Chelsea. Both clubs’ first teams are self-isolating following positive cases of Covid-19.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus last week and although none of the players or staff have shown symptoms, all have been required to quarantine themselves with a view of returning to training on 25 March.
Arsenal have provided each player with tailored training programmes and delivered additional equipment to those who require it. The club’s medical and strength and conditioning staff are in regular remote contact with players and Arteta himself has spoken with players directly.
At Chelsea, where Callum Hudson-Odoi also tested positive last week, there is a similar procedure being followed, with the club hoping the squad will be back training on 22 or 23 March following the current period of self-isolation.
The Blues were forced to remind players of their responsibilities and the importance of following government guidelines after Mason Mount was seen playing football with friends in north London on Sunday.
At other clubs, including Watford and Manchester City, there had been suspected cases of coronavirus, although all results have come back negative.
Training at home
The Hornets are due to return to training at the start of next week, while City are believed to have told players to train alone for the rest of the week, although the club declined to comment on their position.
Bournemouth are another side hoping to resume training on Monday subject to new advice, after goalkeeper Artur Boruc and four first-team staff had to self-isolate, but were not officially tested.
However, the Cherries said that current plans “could change depending on Thursday’s Premier League meeting”.
They are not the only top-flight team taking a cautious approach.
Crystal Palace have closed their training ground “as a precautionary measure for one week, with players being urged to stay at home and undertake personalised training plans.”
The club declined to comment on whether manager Roy Hodsgon, 72, would follow government advice on over 70s self-isolating when the first-team squad resume training.
Liverpool and Newcastle, meanwhile, have gone one step further and cancelled training until the end of next week.
They, along with Everton, West Ham and now Manchester United, who cancelled this morning’s session at the last minute following updated advice from Downing Street, have also given players individual training plans for the meantime.
West Ham are also providing medical support for all players and their families around the clock.
Brighton, Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Norwich and Leicester, meanwhile, have given their first-team squads time off this week to spend with family, and will review the situation following Thursday’s crucial Premier League meeting.