Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has defended Premier League players over reservations they may have regarding a possible return to training and demanded improved communication.
Premier League clubs will vote on Monday over whether a first phase of training can resume, which would see players maintaining social distancing guidelines in small groups, in accordance with government restrictions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
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Watford captain Troy Deeney and West Ham skipper Mark Noble have been among a group of players to speak out, demanding guarantees over player safety ahead of a restart.
"Everyone will handle those situations differently," Lampard told Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.
"People like Troy Deeney, you have to give the freedom to speak out, because people will be speaking from the heart.
"I think we have to upgrade that communication so players know what they're going through, and then they can make those decisions."
'Empathy with players important'
With the Premier League having been suspended for more than two months, Lampard insists his squad are keen to return to action, but are also considering the health of their families.
"My lads, I know - and I'm sure all managers will speak in the same way - they're good lads," Lampard said. "Their intentions and their feelings for their families are good. They want to get here and work. They can't wait to get back and play football.
"I think the important part of my job at the moment is a lot of empathy with the players.
"You can't just say, 'lads, we're going this way', because this is a situation none of us have known. This is not a players' strike, it's not a player not wanting to train, or a player having an argument with another player, this is something that has affected everyone and their families."
'Phase one training plans afoot'
Lampard was enjoying a successful first season in charge at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea on course for Champions League qualification as they sat fourth in the table with nine games remaining when the league was suspended.
If training does resume next week, Lampard says he has been considering how best to prepare his players under the current restrictions.
"We're starting to plan because I think we're still waiting on a few things but we know there's a vote on Monday and there's some testing that's going to be done around that and then we're looking at being back at training early-to-mid next week," Lampard said.
"I've just been talking with the staff planning how phase one will look, because it's going to look quite different for us because of the restrictions."