Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann says a return to Premier League football “can’t come quick enough” following a return to non-contact training in small groups.
Players at the 20 Premier League clubs have resumed small group training, in line with the return to training protocols and UK Government guidelines on social distancing, since Tuesday after a nine-week break from action.
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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Newcastle manager Steve Bruce have warned players may not be fit enough to resume the season before the end of next month, with the Premier League “flexible” over the targeted June 12 restart date.
Watford captain Troy Deeney has decided against an immediate return to training at this stage amid concerns for his own son’s health, as well as that of BAME players, but Dann says a return to competitive football “can’t come quick enough”.
“A few weeks ago you haven’t got an inclination on any return date to training,” Dann told Sky Sports News. “As soon as you get that first message or that first phone call to say potentially we might be training on this date or that date, the excitement starts to come back.
“Ever since then you are counting down the days. As footballers you just want to be out there training and playing. It can’t come quick enough.”
Dann says the environment created to enable the first of the three-phase return to action ensures the club training ground is as safe a place as possible and allayed any personal fears.
The 33-year-old defender believes the Premier League could resume quicker than expected because of the individual fitness work put in by players during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.
“The difference with this [compared to an off season] is everyone has been training from the minute we went away,” the former Blackburn and Birmingham player said.
“For these six, seven, eight weeks, whatever it has been, everyone has been trying to stay as fit as they possibly can whereas in the summer you take a few weeks off, you rest and recover so hopefully across the board everyone has come back in good shape which will then lead to the time frames in training to maybe not take as long as expected.”
Dann, who started in Palace’s three successive victories prior to the suspension of the Premier League on March 13, says the break has helped him appreciate his career even more.
“A few years ago I had a [knee] injury and I was out for nine months,” he said.
“Then I was around 30, 31 and you are not a spring chicken anymore, so I think I took that time to enjoy every last minute of my career.
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