James Tarkowski: Burnley defender backs Premier League restart ahead of proposed training return
Tarkowski eager to get back playing with Burnley provided environment is safe; Premier League targeting a return to training in small groups from May 18
Last Updated: 13/05/20 10:05am
Burnley defender James Tarkowski has backed plans for Project Restart to go ahead, provided the necessary safety measures are in place to protect the welfare of players.
Newcastle United defender Danny Rose voiced his concerns this week over the season resuming, claiming no football should be played until the number of new coronavirus cases has dropped significantly.
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Rose is not alone in having reservations over a return to action with Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling admitting he has mixed emotions when it comes to the thought of Premier League football resuming in the not-too-distant future.
Last month, Burnley chairman Mike Garlick warned the club could lose as much as £50m if the Premier League does not resume this season - but Tarkowski says his views have not been influenced by that position.
"As long as there are safety precautions and testing can be done to make sure everyone's as safe as possible, I want to go back and play," Tarkowski told Sky Sports.
"I understand that people and players will have different views on this situation, but I don't think whatever decision is made is going to please everyone. My personal view is that if everyone is as safe as possible, I'm willing to go back and play.
"If I was worried about anything, or if I didn't feel comfortable playing, then I wouldn't be saying that I am. There are reasons why certain people want to go ahead with certain things, but I just love playing football."
The Premier League is expected to hold conference calls with club captains, managers and medical experts on Wednesday.
The meetings will include representatives from the Professional Footballers' Association [PFA] and League Managers Association [LMA] and focus on the issue of player welfare.
Tarkowski, who is part of a Burnley side 10th in the Premier League, revealed that manager Sean Dyche has held Zoom calls as a full group in order for the squad to be informed as a collective with regular updates on a rolling situation with captain Ben Mee in contact with those at other clubs as a mouthpiece for the dressing room.
"I've not spoken to every player individually," Tarkowski responded when asked if every member of the Burnley squad is in favour of returning. "We've had a few group conversations where a few people will pipe up and say what they think and the general consensus is that we do want to go back and play to finish this season.
"But there needs to be so many things in place beforehand to ensure our safety and our families' safety before we can go back."
The Premier League cannot yet confirm whether it will return on June 12, and clubs have discussed the possibility of up to four weeks in training before resuming any games.
But if the game does get the green light, Tarkowski says he wouldn't think twice about needing to adapt his way of playing over fears of contracting the virus.
"It's going to be interesting. If I'm two metres away from a striker all the time, the gaffer's going to be on me a little bit.
"But by that point, if we're playing, then everyone should have been cleared and deemed that they're all free of the virus so it's not something that we should need to worry about."
Tarkowski and his partner have been kept busy by their one-year-old during lockdown, but the centre-half has been able to slip into a routine as a family to help pass the time.
Hour-long morning walks, a midday workout and time in the back garden in between providing entertainment for his daughter is the order of most days, but like most professional footballers, Tarkowski is eager to return to full training.
"I feel pretty good," he continued. "I've made a mini home gym so I've been able to do a few workouts in there, and there's an amateur football pitch down the road to where I live so I've managed to go there and get my boots on.
"The club has put on sessions the last few weeks to get us back into shape, but I never really stopped. I was always preparing to go back to playing so I've managed to keep on top of things."