Foxes return to training after two-month lay-off

Jamie Vardy

Leicester City’s first team squad returned to group training on Wednesday, as preparations for the return of Premier League football took a step forward at Belvoir Drive.

Training together for the first time since mid-March, the Foxes players and staff began adapting to somewhat different surroundings at the Club’s training headquarters, following the introduction of new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – the pandemic that caused English football’s suspension nine weeks ago.

Working in groups of no more than five, the players began programmes carefully planned by the Club’s coaching, medical and sports science staff to steadily build on the individual work permitted during lockdown. At this stage, sessions remain non-contact and socially distanced. Content for was captured on long lens, at appropriate distance.

Under Step One of the Premier League’s Return to Training Protocol, players and immediate staff undergo COVID Antigen Testing (CAT) twice a week to ensure the working environment adheres to the highest safety standards. City players took part in this testing for the first time on Monday – the first in a series of new measures introduced for the restart.

A further two-stage daily screening process has been put in place before admission to Belvoir Drive – the first taking place via an app at home and the second on arrival – with personnel reporting at staggered intervals, in training kit and ready to move straight to the training pitches. Access to the building is strictly limited to essential, individual strength and conditioning work, carried out under strict distancing guidelines.

The transition to small group sessions enabled staff to focus on developing players’ physical fitness while exposing them to a higher complexity of technical drills. The phased process is specifically tailored to suitably prepare the players for the increasing demands of training, while tightly observing the protocols in place to keep them safe.

Adhering to the new one-way system that has been put in place to aid social distancing, players worked their way through their 75-minute sessions spread across the site, completing any necessary gym work before returning to their vehicles and departing for home.

Manager Brendan Rodgers was among those in attendance to oversee proceedings, as the group started to become accustomed to a new way of working. While the latest protocols will give first team staff a vital opportunity to examine player conditioning first-hand, debriefs and session preparation will continue to take place remotely to limit time spent on-site.

As announced by the Premier League on Monday, consultation with players, managers, clubs, the PFA and LMA continues as protocols for full-contact training are developed, in preparation to resume Premier League football when it is safe to do so.

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