The Premier League’s integrity could be affected if players worried about their health amid the COVID-19 pandemic choose to miss matches, according to Watford midfielder Tom Cleverley.
English soccer was halted in mid-March due to the outbreak but clubs can now train in small groups as part of the league’s “Project Restart” which envisages a return to play in June.
Watford captain Troy Deeney said he will not resume training due to worry over his son’s health while British media reported Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is prepared to miss their remaining games due to safety concerns.
“If you’re missing five or six of your players through personal circumstances, it’s going to hit us hard and it does affect the integrity of the competition,” Cleverley told British media.
Since players returned to limited group training on Tuesday, there have been eight positive tests for the virus at England’s top-flight clubs including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa.
Watford are 17th in the league, level on 27 points with Bournemouth, who also had a player test positive on Sunday.
“You can’t really say ‘that’s bad luck, get on with it’ when so much is at stake. Hopefully, if the league does continue we’ll have all our best players and a full-strength squad to pick from,” Cleverley said.
“If it’s not the case, then we’ll have to deal with it. It’s got to be a no-excuses mentality from now until the end of the season.”
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