Up to four players are believed to have joined Troy Deeney in not returning for non-contact training in small groups at Watford on Wednesday; Adrian Mariappa revealed he tested positive for coronavirus this week
Wednesday 20 May 2020 18:04, UK
Watford head coach Nigel Pearson says he respects the decision of his players, including club captain Troy Deeney, to decide against returning to training.
Premier League clubs have resumed non-contact training in small groups since Tuesday, with Watford among those to return on Wednesday for the first time since the coronavirus suspended top-level football in England on March 13.
Deeney revealed earlier this week he would not immediately return amid the pandemic because of concerns for his own son's health, as well as that of BAME players.
When asked about Deeney's absence from the training ground, Pearson told Sky Sports News: "I spoke to him yesterday. He is fine and I know he is in good physical shape.
"I don't want to talk too much about individuals but every player or member of staff that it affects in different ways we have to respects players' views on returning."
Pearson raised concerns about a coronavirus-related death in the Premier League in an interview with The Times on Saturday and also urged caution before a decision is made about whether to resume the season.
Up to four other players are believed to have followed Deeney's lead in opting against a return to training at this stage, with the Premier League hopeful of resuming the season in mid-June.
"I have spoken to players who have chosen at the moment that that is their stance and we abide with what we have already said to them and we respect their decision," Pearson said.
"One of the key factors in this is there are still a few unanswered questions and why ever there is an element of doubt and players feel that there are too many question marks then we respect their decision."
Premier League officials have previously stressed games will only be played again when it is "safe and appropriate".
He added: "Our aim as a football club is to protect our own players and make sure we do what we can to prepare them for what the next stage is, whatever that is.
Adrian Mariappa revealed earlier on Wednesday that he is the Watford player who was among three cases at the club, alongside two non-playing staff members, to have returned a positive test following the first round of testing this week.
"It was a big surprise because I haven't really left the house, apart from some exercise and the odd walk with the kids," Mariappa told Telegraph Sport. "I've mainly just been homeschooling and keeping fit.
"My lifestyle is very quiet, certainly no parties or going out or anything, so I really don't know how I got it.
"Like most people, we've been having more deliveries of food and things, so maybe that's one way, and my partner has been to the supermarket a few times."