Premier League restart: Bernardo on Brighton's hopes, lockdown and his Project Restart questions
"The only problem I see is about phases two and three. Things need to be more clear - how it's going to be, when it's going to be."
By Roger Clarke
Last Updated: 24/05/20 7:56am
Brighton or Brazil? That was the dilemma facing Bernardo when Britain went into lockdown in March.
He chose to sit tight in Sussex, knowing the call to resume the Premier League could come at any time. Now that call has come and the Brazilian full-back and his Albion team-mates are in phase one of Project Restart.
He says he is happy to be back in training - though concerns over coronavirus remain.
"In the last few weeks, I've read all this stuff about black people having a higher risk with Covid-19 and it's definitely something that we think about and is definitely something that should be considered," he told Sky Sports News.
"The majority of players, including me, agree that phase one is totally ok because we keep distances and it's safer to go to the training ground than to go to the park or, here in Brighton, to run on the beach or the promenade.
"The only problem I see is about phases two and three. Things need to be more clear - how it's going to be, when it's going to be, so then I can have an honest opinion about it. I'm still waiting for more information about phases two and three and how things are going to work out."
And he says that if he is in any way unsure, he is confident he will have the support not only of Brighton, but his union, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), too.
"One thing I think is important and really nice here in England is how active the PFA is," he added.
"They have done an amazing job. They are always in contact with the players and they always defend our interests and make our opinions very clear.
"I'm not afraid and never felt any pressure of not being honest with them (Brighton) and not saying how I feel. But how things are going to end up and if I agree, I can't answer right now."
Bernardo says he is pleased the season will be decided on the pitch rather than in a virtual meeting room but would be unsure over potentially completing the fixtures using neutral venues.
"[I'm] a bit concerned with the situation of playing in neutral grounds or playing in our home stadium which I think is something that can make all the difference," he said.
"But it's a pandemic and people are going to have to start giving up some of their interests to be able to conclude the season. So it's a very delicate subject because at the end of the day it won't be 100 per cent fair."
If and when fixtures do resume Brighton have a job on their hands to stay in the Premier League. They are just two points above the relegation places with a run-in that includes games against Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Without a win in 2020, lockdown may have provided them with a chance to find some fresh impetus.
"It could actually be a positive thing," Bernardo said. "Since the beginning of the year we didn't win a single match and I think we've had time to analyse, to see what we've been doing good and see the things that were not going that well and try to make it better."
As he contemplates football's return, Bernardo is also keeping a close eye on developments in Brazil. He was tempted to visit his parents, and says it was not an easy decision to stay in England, but he is satisfied he made the right call.
"In Brazil the situation right now is very confusing," he said. "We have many problems. One of them is our president [Jair Bolsanaro]. He's one of the few presidents in the world that didn't admit the risk that our population has being exposed to this virus.
"He didn't take any action like quarantining, he's going around without wearing a mask and giving a really bad example for our population."
While he is frustrated with the situation in Brazil, Bernardo takes great pride in the role Brighton's "Albion as One" charity fund has played locally during the pandemic.
He said: "As players we donated some of our salaries to help people in the community that were affected by Covid-19 and we're more than glad to help the community and help the fans because here we feel very welcomed and part of the community and we definitely always want to help."
Bernardo and his team-mates have already gone some way towards lifting local spirits and they will do so again if they can keep Brighton in the Premier League.