Troy Deeney
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Deeney considers training return after talking with top doctor

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Watford captain Troy Deeney is considering a return to training after some of his concerns were allayed by a leading doctor.

Deeney, 31, declined to return to training last week due to fears of spreading the coronavirus to his five-month-old son, who struggles from breathing difficulties.

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He also expressed concerns over how the virus has disproportionately affected the black community.

Deeney stated he never said his absence from training was permanent and that talks with Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer, have helped him.

From Sky Sports:

“I’m potentially going to go in next week. Even if it’s just to have a conversation. I’ve already been in dialogue with all the players and all the management.”

Deeney also said he received some vile abuse directed at his son following his first comments, which is disgusting but unfortunately not surprising.

Watford is currently outside the Premier League drop zone on goal difference, one of three teams on 27 points. Deeney’s six goals share the team lead with Ismaila Sarr, and the veteran has scored 129 goals in his Hornets career.

Hornets goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes said this week that Watford “cannot afford” to be without the striker and that he believed the environment is very safe. Hopefully all things work out for Deeney and his family.

Mariappa reveals he tested positive for COVID-19

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Adrian Mariappa has revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of Premier League tests.

The Watford defender was one of six positive tests after 748 tests were taken from players and staff across 19 clubs (everyone apart from Norwich City, who were tested a day later) on Sunday and Monday ahead of a return to small-group training from Tuesday.

That means anybody who did positive did not come into close contact with other players of club officials.

Watford have confirmed that two of their coaching staff have also tested positive, while Burnley’s assistance coach Ian Woan has also tested positive. Anybody who tests positive will now have to self-isolate for seven days and under strict Premier League protocols will be tested at a later date before they can return to training grounds for social-distanced training sessions.

Mariappa told Telegraph Sport more details about his positive test.

“It’s quite scary how you can feel absolutely fine and not really have left the house, and yet still get the virus,” Mariappa said. “If it wasn’t for the fact I had gone back to training and had this test, then I’d never have found out that I had the virus and I would just be getting on with things as normal. That’s obviously quite a strange thought.”

“I live with three of my children, who are five, nine and 11, and my partner and, obviously, now I’m a bit worried about them. They are all fine and are not showing any symptoms, but you can’t help but think about it and keep your distance once you know you’ve tested positive.”

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to a return to small-group training from Tuesday, as players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. 40 tests will take place on players and staff at clubs twice per week.

Mariappa’s Watford team, Troy Deeney, has revealed he will not return to small-group training this week as he is not comfortable with the protocols in place and has more questions about the risks.

Watford manager Nigel Pearson has also been outspoken about the risks of rushing a return to training and chairman Scott Duxbury is keen for games to be played home and away if and when the 2019-20 season returns. The Hornets are currently embroiled in a relegation battle, as they only sit out of the drop zone on goal difference with nine games to go.

Next week is a key week for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plan as clubs are due to meet on Tuesday (May 26) to discuss a return to full contact training, then again on Thursday (May 28) to vote on whether or not to restart the season.

Phase One of the return to training protocol is now well under way and that means players and staff have to strictly adhere to social-distancing rules inside and outside of the training grounds. If they don’t, then the entire ‘Project Restart’ plan will fall down as more positive tests will be found and individuals will be forced to self-isolate for seven days at a time.

Watford captain Deeney won’t return to training

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Watford captain Troy Deeney has said he will not return to small-group training this week due to fears about the health of his young son.

Deeney, 31, has aired his views on multiple occasions throughout the Premier League suspension and was a leading figure when the players spoke to the Premier League about the return to training protocol.

Speaking to Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew’s Talk The Talk podcast, Deeney revealed why he will not be returning to this week after Premier League clubs unanimously voted in favor to do so

“We’re due back in this week. I’ve said I’m not going in. It’s nothing to do with financial gain,” Deeney said. “When I go into full detail about my personal situation, everyone here will go ‘no problem.’ My son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties. I don’t want to come home and put him in more danger. You’ve got to drive in in your own kit, you can’t have showers, then drive back in the same dirty kit you’ve got. If I’m putting my clothing in with my son’s or my missus’ it’s more likely to be in the house.”

Previously Deeney had said he doesn’t care about finances and would rather put his family first than being paid to captain Watford in the Premier League, as several players (Sergio Aguero, Glenn Murray and Raheem Sterling the most vocal) about returning.

Deeney then detailed the specific questions he asked the PL and medical experts during the players’ meetings and he highlighted the fact that members of the BAME community in the UK have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Within the meeting I asked very simple questions. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and we’re twice as likely to have long lasting illnesses,” Deeney said. “Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff to see if people have got problems? No. Okay, well I feel like that should be addressed. If going forward, in phase two and three, which are going into smaller groups of three to six people, is there a clear layout if we hit certain targets then we will transition into 11 v 11? No, it’s six days of this, seven days of that, then a week until you’re playing.

“They want the first game to be June 12, so we’re only like three-and-a-half weeks away from that, so my thing is the transition is really fast. While we are being tested and while we are going to be in a very safe environment, it only takes one person in the group. I don’t want to be bringing that home.”

That last comment on the start date for games has been addressed by Premier League CEO Richard Masters and it is likely the June 12 start date will be moved back to enable players time to return to full fitness.

June 19 or June 26 now seems like a more achievable starting date but that can only happen as and when the league, clubs, players, the UK government and medical staff agree on how they can restart contact training in larger groups.

Serie A suspension extended (at least one day) to June 14

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ROME — The Serie A is suspended until June 14 unless the Italian government gives it the green light to resume a day earlier as planned.

The league announced last week that its 20 teams agreed to resume competition on June 13 in empty stadiums.

However, the Italian soccer federation announced on Monday, a day after a government decree banning sports until June 14, that it was complying.

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The FIGC announced that “pending any further and desirable decision by the competent authority” its competitions will remain suspended until that date.

Serie A has been off since March 9, when the government ordered a nationwide lockdown.

There are 12 rounds remaining in Serie A, plus four matches that were postponed in the 25th round. Also, the Italian Cup is in the semifinal stage.

Italian clubs resumed training on an individual basis on May 4 when lockdown measures in the country started to ease. They were slated to return to training together on Monday but they have not been given the green light to do so by the Italian government’s science panel.

The medical protocol for the resumption of Serie A has proved contentious but a revised document was delivered to Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora on Sunday and the science panel is expected to give its verdict this week.

Fourth-tier American league UPSL announces June 20 return

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Fourth-tier American league United Premier Soccer League has announced it plans to start its spring season on June 20 in states where it’s legal to do so.

It’s stunning to read given the climate caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States right now, but commissioner Yan Skwara says participation will be voluntary and that teams have until June 10 to announce their intention to play in the spring season.

That’s awfully close to the start of play, but these are extraordinary, heavily-charged times.

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The UPSL’s official release reads, “The UPSL Spring 2020 Season will commence in a condensed format starting Saturday, June 20, and incorporating only the states, counties and municipalities where organized soccer is allowed. We are optimistic that play will be permitted in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and South Carolina. Other states will be subject to ongoing developments and all locations are subject to change at very short notice.”

Skwara told ProSoccerTalk, “As the social distancing restrictions across the country continue to ease, we have officially initiated a return back to soccer competition. With our announcement today, we are creating an opportunity for those team that are able to compete to do so. This has been a long road over the past few months and we look forward to seeing the players back in the beautiful game.”

The league has canceled its national championship and will spread its prize money amongst the regional champions. It will conclude its competition in late August. It also announced its Fall season would start two weeks later and run into February if conditions around the virus allow it.

Fellow fourth-tier leagues USL League Two and the NPSL canceled their seasons earlier this spring but said they’d revisit abbreviated schedules and unusual competitions if the coronavirus pandemic eased and clubs wanted to play.

The UPSL was founded in 2011 and has over 300 teams across the country. It was nationally sanctioned by the USASA for the first time in October.