Premier League: Gary Neville has no fears over player fitness and calls for a June 19 restart
Neville: "Two or three weeks on top of the fitness work they've been doing at home feels about right. June 12 feels a touch early but there's no reason to go beyond June 19 for a restart"
Last Updated: 28/05/20 4:54pm
Gary Neville has called on the Premier League to restart the league no later than June 19, as players will only need "two or three weeks" of training to get up to speed.
On Wednesday, the Premier League voted unanimously to approve a return to contact training, in another significant step towards the resumption of matches "when safe to do so".
The significance of contact training is that it is the single biggest step towards the resumption of matches. Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact
The Premier League says a proposed date of June 12 remains flexible, with reports suggesting clubs want to push back until June 26 over fears players could succumb to injury if they rush back into action too soon.
- Premier League clubs approve return to contact training
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However, Neville isn't concerned about the current timeframe for players to return to fitness, citing June 19 as a sensible restart date.
Speaking on The Football Show, he said: "Two or three weeks on top of the fitness work they've been doing at home feels about right. June 12 feels a touch early but there's no reason to go beyond June 19 for a restart."
He added: "I don't see players' fitness being a concern - I don't see them needing four or five weeks. Even when they've had six weeks off for pre-season, within 10 days of going back in they'd be playing games again in pre-season.
"They wouldn't be 100 per cent fit but these are uncharted times. I wouldn't expect the players to be absolutely perfect. I feel two to three weeks is about right to get them back playing again.
"We're constantly told throughout the season that players are overworked, play too many matches. What we can't have is a situation where the players have had an eight-week break to then say they need six weeks of training to get back to fitness. That doesn't feel right.
"If Harry Kane was borderline fit for the European Championships and was going to be back two weeks before the tournament, he'd be saying he was fit and ready to go. I don't see the difference with this situation.
"If this was a major cup final or league game, and a player had been out for eight weeks with an injury and he only had 10 days of training, he'd be fighting to get into that squad. I don't buy into the need for an extended period of time."
Nev: Lockdown may have helped Spurs, Man Utd
Neville also explained why the lockdown may have helped the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United, with key players returning from injury, and outlined Heung-Min Son's importance to Spurs...
"I think the lockdown helps Tottenham, and helps Manchester United. They get Pogba and Rashford back, Tottenham get Kane and Son back. I know we say that these clubs have squads, and they're big clubs, but you cannot lose Harry Kane and not be impacted.
"Son is a player who I think could go into any team in the world. His style of play is just so modern, he's a modern forward who can play left, play right, play off the front, and I think in some ways he's as important to Tottenham as Harry Kane.
"If you're Harry Kane you need Son playing alongside you, he makes the runs past that create the space for Kane. In fact, Kane is a massive positive for Tottenham, but also a bit of a problem because they probably can't get another centre forward to go to the club because they know he'll be on the bench. What it does mean is that when Harry Kane is injured, there's a big loss, so him and Son are hugely important.
"Jose I think is obviously still trying to establish himself at Tottenham, and I think he'll be more confident after lockdown of achieving what he wants this season than he would have done before, because those two players were missing."
Souness: PL return would be enormous boost to country
Also speaking on The Football Show on Wednesday, Graeme Souness insists we must accept that a Premier League return would be imperfect, but that a return in any form would be an enormous boost for the country.
He said: "You would want four to five weeks, but everyone is different. Some players get fit quicker than others.
"It is inevitable there will be strains and pulls, but that's the price on the ticket. What people have to accept is these are unchartered waters. We're in an area nobody has ever been before, so we just have to accept things are not quite right.
"The whole nation wants them back playing, those who have a modicum of interest in football want it, TV wants it, and it would be, regardless of what any anti-football person says, an enormous boost for the country. People love football, the most-watched and most popular sport in the world, and is a huge part of their leisure time, whether going or watching it on television.
"They want it back, and it's going to be imperfect. We just have to accept it. Injuries will happen. We might not get the results we expect. It's behind closed doors - it's not perfect. Players might not be up to speed - it's not perfect. People will get injuries - it's not perfect.
"But these are incredible times we're living through, we just have to get on with it, when it is deemed to be safe, and please God we're getting pretty close to that now."