George Floyd death: Liverpool and Chelsea among Premier League clubs to show support for Black Lives Matter movement

Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle players have all taken a knee in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, following the death of American George Floyd.

Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer, who has since been charged with his murder, held him down by pressing a knee into his neck.

A number of Liverpool players, including James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson, tweeted pictures of the squad on one knee around the centre circle at Anfield on Monday with the message, ‘Unity is strength #BlackLivesMatter’.

Unity is strength. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/sSu2sarAXa

The squads at Chelsea and Newcastle followed suit on Tuesday, after footballers Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho had both called for “justice” over Floyd’s death, which has led to protests across the United States.

“It is something where we want to use our position to express that we are living in a world where we have to try to improve it for the future, to be a better world with more love, without hate,” Cezar Azpilicueta told Chelsea’s official website.

“We have seen recently the result of racism and we see every day that that kind of hate has to be eradicated from society, and we have to play our part.”

Before training at Cobham this morning, the Chelsea players and coaching staff formed the letter H, for humans, and knelt in a show of support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. pic.twitter.com/yI6kAywa93

Manchester United forward Rashford said society is “more divided than ever” in a powerful anti-racism message on Monday.

The 22-year-old wrote on Twitter: “I know you guys haven’t heard from me in a few days. I’ve been trying to process what is going on in the world.

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“At a time I’ve been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to me more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers.

“Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter.”

#blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/LSEeQ61YRz

It follows England team-mate Sancho revealing a message calling for “justice” after scoring for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Sancho put Dortmund 2-0 up 57 minutes into their Bundesliga match against Paderborn, before removing his jersey to reveal an undershirt with a message reading “justice for George Floyd”.

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Sancho, who came through Manchester City’s academy before moving to Germany in 2017, and team-mate Achraf Hakimi were both shown a yellow card for removing their shirts during the tribute.

Solid performance from the team!! Delighted to get my first career hat trick, a bittersweet moment personally as there are more important things going on in the world today that we must address and help make a change. We shouldn't fear speaking out for what's right, we have to come together as one & fight for justice. We are stronger together! ❤️ #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd 🙏🏼

A post shared by Jadon Sancho (@sanchooo10) on

The 20-year-old, who was part of the England squad that was subjected to sickening racist abuse in last year’s Euro 2020 qualifiers in Montenegro and Bulgaria, went on to score a hat-trick in the 6-1 victory.

Those tributes came after another Bundesliga player, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram, went down on one knee after scoring earlier on Sunday in an apparent tribute to Floyd.

Thuram, the son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, briefly accepted the congratulations of his team-mates during the 4-1 win over Union Berlin, before dropping to his knee for five seconds with his head bowed.

Thuram later took to Twitter to say: “Together is how we move forward, together is how we make a change #BLACK–LIVES–MATTERS.”

Together is how we move forward, together is how we make a change 👊🏿 #BLACK_LIVES_MATTERS pic.twitter.com/7OJUWqTLQZ

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger posted a photo of the Frenchman’s celebration with the caption “R E S P E C T!” and “no explanation needed”.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster, who like Sancho was part of the England squad that won the 2017 U17 World Cup, highlighted the urgent need for change.

Brewster, who has spoken previously of suffering racist abuse on the field, wrote on Twitter and Instagram: “This is way deeper than just pointing out who’s staying quiet and who’s speaking up.

⁣This is way deeper than just pointing out who’s staying quiet and who’s speaking up. Unfortunately for us black/brown people etc, this is a real life & everyday occurrence in so many different ways. For years & generations we’ve been screaming out for change and to be heard 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Lo3pvJlTQJ

“Unfortunately for us black/brown people etc, this is a real life & everyday occurrence in so many different ways. For years & generations we’ve been screaming out for change and to be heard yet the pain continues…”

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Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted #BlackLivesMatter to his 5.7m Twitter follows, which featured a video of a young black American girl in tears about inherent racism in society.

Tennis player Serena Williams tweeted Nike’s powerful ‘Don’t Do It’ video along with the message: “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America”.

Kick It Out urges all players to kneel for Floyd

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari has urged all players to take a knee for Floyd because “we’re all hurt by racism”.

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Premier League restart: Referees hoping to take charge of friendlies as they ramp up preparations

Premier League referees are hoping to take charge of a series of friendlies over the next fortnight as part of preparations for their return to competitive action.

Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) members will hold talks this week with the league’s medical experts ahead of the proposed return of Premier League fixtures behind closed doors on June 17.

In particular, the PGMOL is keen to consider what can be learned from the four rounds of games played so far in the Bundesliga.

The lack of matches continues to hamper officials’ preparations for a return to competition, and referees in Germany had similar problems prior to their return last month.

With Premier League clubs isolating their players in sterile ‘bubbles’, the opportunities for referees to get up to speed are limited.

However, talks this week may consider a way for referees to take charge of the behind-closed-doors games Premier League teams are organising.

In a temporary relaxation of rules, players and managers will not be cautioned for using foul language when Premier League action returns, despite concerns that viewers and listeners may hear more swearing.

However, it is expected that the Premier League will remind clubs that players and managers should be mindful of what fans can hear.

Players will also be asked to remain two metres away when talking to match officials, although they understand that, on some occasions, players will come into close contact, such as when they are marking out 10 yards for free-kicks.

All PGMOL officials, who hope social distancing can be encouraged wherever possible, have remained fit and well during lockdown and all are keen to return to match action later this month. They have all had regular video conferencing sessions to help bring them up to speed.

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Sean Dyche interview: Burnley boss is expecting a different challenge

Burnley boss Sean Dyche usually splits his time between the club’s Lancashire training ground and his Northamptonshire home so the opportunity to spend less time on the road and more time with his loved ones has been gratefully received.

“I have been able to spend some time with my kids and catch up with family life. In these strange times, I have enjoyed that side of it,” he tells Sky Sports.

“But I am ready now. I think everyone is ready. It is what I do. It is what I have done since I was 16. I have been in professional football all my life so when it is taken away it feels odd. After a while you get that feeling again, that bug, and you want to get back to it.”

Dyche has had plenty of time to consider how football will look upon its restart.

He watched the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke with interest and was impressed by the tempo. Nevertheless, he is keen to point out that nobody should expect the game to be the same if the Premier League resumes as anticipated next month.

“This is going to be totally different,” he says.

In what way?

Fitness

One of the initial challenges for Premier League clubs as they return to training is to increase the fitness levels of the players. During phase one, in which they must stay in smaller groups, that is a tricky situation to manage because game situations are impossible.

“We have got a pod of four and there are other pods of five and that is the maximum. They have to stay in those pods so every day it is the same people and the same places so that is the overall challenge. Players want to mix, they want to be together, they want to get back to game-style possession football as a team rather than just in their little groups.”

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That would not be so awkward if this was the start of a lengthy pre-season programme. Instead, with time being of the essence, it is likely to be a truncated one. Dyche does not expect players to be at the peak of their fitness in time for the first game back.

“The early games will be like the end of a pre-season,” he predicts.

“You cannot go into the season playing against other teams so I think that the actual games programme – the first one, two or three games – will be part of the final piece of the jigsaw whereas normally you would be looking to hit the first game as game-ready as possible.

“You might get a few odd results.”

Motivation

That will not just be down to fitness levels.

This is a pre-season unlike any other. Firstly, there are no new signings to freshen things up. “That is a slightly different challenge because you have not got that newness that might stimulate the group,” says Dyche. “These are the same players refocusing.”

From a motivational point of view, teams are not restarting on the same points total either. Some clubs have more to play for than others and that is likely to have consequences.

“If you are Liverpool, for example, you want to finish the job,” explains Dyche. “You want to get it done. So their motivation is really clear. But I think for the middle group and some of the lower teams it is going to be about how you come out of this period.

“You often notice that at the beginning of a season or the end of a season you get these odd results where teams are either finding their feet or just playing out the season when other teams are fighting for something. You can get these anomalies. That might be part of it.

“Some teams are talking about the mentality of their players with this idea that some players do not want to play. I think that will probably dissipate eventually but you get to that first game and how focused is everyone going to be? That may give strange results.”

Crowds

Results in the Bundesliga so far – with just three home wins from the opening 18 matches – also suggest that home advantage might not be as significant as before without supporters in the stadium. It is something that managers might need to factor into their approach.

“Normally, when you are walking into Old Trafford there are 70,000 fans. That is bound to be different without those fans. It is just a human thing. It is just another challenge.

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“You could argue that it might give teams a slightly bigger chance away from home just because there is not a house full of home fans there. But we do not know that yet.

“What the players will know is that the TV cameras will be there and there will be arguably even more people watching them than ever before through the screen. So there will be that feeling in the background of the game, but it will be peculiar.”

Intensity

Dyche believes there are bigger factors that could affect the intensity of games. The prospect of playing in July, with games coming in quick succession, will have an impact.

“Firstly, the chances are it is going to be hotter. We do not normally play through a summer programme so that will be different. Secondly, the games are going be coming around much quicker. That has to be figured into it when people talk about the tempo.

“They should not just think that there is no crowd so that explains why the tempo is different. It is not just that. Those two factors are going to make it different as well. It is going to affect things and people need to be open-minded about that.”

Finding that edge

Dyche is clearly well aware of the challenges. But with Burnley only six points off fifth spot in the Premier League and only Arsenal on a longer unbeaten run in the Premier League, the unusual circumstances present an opportunity for his players. How do they seize it?

“That is the challenge,” Dyche admits.

“These are exceptional times and exceptional circumstances so you have to think a bit differently. The way I look at it, this will come down to how flexible you can be to use the time available.

“Each coach will be trying to get the players as game-ready as he can.

“At the moment, in this early phase, training is geared towards the science guys.

“They are the ones who are planning it out and doing the testing, so as coaches we are just doing drills in between the work that they are doing.

“Once we can get into phase two and contact football, which will hopefully be this week, then it changes the dynamic and it is a lot easier for the players to come together.

“That makes it easier for the coaches because we can come up with different drills to keep them mentally stimulated as well as physically.

“Part of the mentality to perform will be clear-mindedness. We are certainly looking for that from the players. Focus on the challenge in front of us. That is one of the things that I think will be important.

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Premier League clubs set for contact training vote next week

Premier League clubs are set to vote next week to start contact training despite the concerns of many players.

Clubs have been training this week in small groups while respecting social distancing measures according to step one protocols.

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The Premier League has been finalising step two protocols which will involve contact training.

They will consult players and managers before the proposals are voted on at the next shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday.

One Premier League club owner says he would be amazed if clubs don’t vote next week in favour of starting contact training.

Players are expected to receive the results of their second round of coronavirus tests on Saturday after they were carried out at their training grounds on Thursday and Friday.

According to a senior executive at a Premier League club, players need to step up training next week if it is safe to do so in order to be fit for games to start again in the middle of next month.

Clubs and players are waiting for the government to release guidance for the second phase of contact training for elite sports.

Several players including Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante are not taking part in phase one training because of concerns about coronavirus.

Many more players are worried about phase two because it will involve contact training. Watford defender Christian Kabasele says he would not take part in full training sessions.

“If it was starting tomorrow training 11 v 11 with contact, with everybody at the training ground, I would not go that’s for sure,” he said on the Counter Attack podcast.

Pearson: Two more players self-isolating

Two more Watford players are self-isolating after being in close contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus, says manager Nigel Pearson.

The unnamed pair join Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and two staff members who went into isolation this week after they tested positive in the Premier League’s first round of testing.

It is another blow for the club who also have several players, including captain Troy Deeney, staying away from training due to ongoing safety concerns.

“The testing situation is obviously to minimise risk, so for the players and staff who have been in this week statistically they should be a lot safer but it is still a surprise for those who have tested positive,” Pearson said.

“They’re all feeling OK, and likewise for their families as well. That is important for us to make sure that those people – their health is OK.

“In addition to that, we’ve had a couple more people who have to be in isolation because they’ve been in close contact with people who have tested positive, even though their own result came back negative.

“I think that shows the types of complications that we’ve got. Today everybody has been tested again, we were tested on Friday morning, and we await further results over the weekend now.

“It is just something we have got to get used to. We are trying, as everybody will be, to establish what is now a more normal working practice in the circumstances that we have. That is what we have got to work with. But they’re OK.”

Championship players given coronavirus self-test option

Championship players will be given the option to self-test for coronavirus ahead of a planned return to training on Monday.

The EFL says it is taking a ‘flexible approach’ to testing, and has outlined three ways in which clubs will be able to check if their players are free from the virus.

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Premier League aims for July end to campaign and 2020/21 season start in August or September

The Premier League is still planning for the current campaign to finish in July but the prospect of fans returning to stadiums next season is looking increasingly remote.

Officials are optimistic about the Premier League restarting in June – some three months after football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – but there is an acknowledgment that plans may not be sufficiently advanced to ensure a return to action on June 12, as initially hoped.

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Chief executive Richard Masters says the Premier League also remains hopeful the 2020/21 season will begin in August or September – and will be played in full – following the conclusion of the current campaign.

“There will come a point when next season becomes difficult to schedule. We are not at that point yet,” Masters said.

“The June return and July finish leaves time for a break for other competitions to be completed and start the season towards the end of August or very early September.

“Obviously what we want to do is ensure the season is completed in a way which preserves other competitions, but also preserves our ability to start and deliver 38 match rounds next season in a proper calendar.”

To do that, Masters admits there is a possibility of games being spread throughout the week.

“Given we are trying to get the season away in a slightly truncated situation, we may look at some interesting scheduling options,” he said.

“Nothing we can confirm yet, but we’ve got to make it work for everybody.”

Social distancing and football’s ‘new normal’

Clubs in the Premier League are already well-aware of the possibility of the whole of next season being played behind closed doors.

The Premier League’s medical adviser, Dr Mark Gillett, has already warned that he has been given the indication from authorities that “the social and public health situation is not going to change over the next six to 12 months.”

That raises questions about when fans can expect to return to watch their teams play, but Dr Gillett hinted empty or vastly-reduced capacity crowds could become one of the new norms in the short to medium term.

Asked if advice on the lasting impact of social restrictions has been communicated to clubs who may be reluctant to play next month, Dr Gillett said: “I can’t comment on the motives and thoughts of other clubs but what I can say is that the public health situation… there’s a very clear lead on that.

“So, the only way that you can eliminate risk completely is to lock yourself in the house and not go out.

“And I think the feeling is – that certainly in terms of a vaccine and everybody becoming immune and the vaccine being distributed – I don’t think any expert is saying that’s going to happen in the next few months

“So, certainly in terms of social distancing and the new normal – which is the phrase that everyone uses – and that cultural change that we are asking footballers to make, I think we are going to be facing that for the foreseeable future.

“I think that’s an important point to get across.”

PL planning for start of next season in ‘different ways’

Asked if he expects the situation for next season to have improved in time for nest season to start as planned, Masters said: “We simply don’t know is the clear answer and we are reliant on government and medical advice.

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Language of fear around fans needs to be lost if Premier League is to mirror Bundesliga’s successful return

This weekend, as millions around the globe tuned in to the Bundesliga, Premier League executives were watching football’s return with a more studious lens to sharpen their Project Restart thinking.

Beyond noting the social-distancing protocols and the impact of no supporters on the spectacle, there was a particular interest in the absence of disruption around any of the games even though groups of Ultras were opposed to the resumption of the season at empty stadiums.

Neutral venues has been pushed as a pre-condition of England’s top flight returning by Mark Roberts, the police chief in charge of football in the country, to “reduce the threat” of large crowd gatherings outside the grounds.

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That view was supported by Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins and David Jamieson, his counterpart at the West Midlands department.

However, that “dangerous narrative” was dismissed in The Independent by shadow sports minister Alison McGovern, Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for West Derby and co-founder of Fans Supporting Foodbanks as well as Geoff Pearson, a Senior Lecturer at Manchester University and researcher on policing and football crowds.

Owen West, an experienced former match commander, believes there has been a fundamental difference in the way Germany has approached the subject in comparison to England.

While the former has tackled the key concern – the spread of coronavirus – the return of the Premier League has been discussed as a public order issue.

“The debate in Germany has not been characterised by the language of fear – that there might be disorder, that fans are automatically a threat if they are in large number and that that the emergency services would be overwhelmed,” he told The Independent.

“Germany has had a mature debate which focuses on the real issue and that is how best to see some type of return of football in a way which best mitigates the spread of disease.

“Their focus has been on health and the ours has been on completely unevidenced fears of disorder and threat.

“The virus is entirely unprecedented therefore it is simply not possible to assert the notion of fans gathering en masse and overwhelming emergency services, because we have never been here before. We have taken an entirely pessimistic view, the Bundesliga have had the opposite stance.”

The Premier League’s bid to fulfil fixtures home and away as usual rather than at neutral venues was strengthened over the weekend.

And West, a recently retired police chief superintendent, believes there’s no concrete basis for clubs not using their own ground.

“The personal view of the national police lead lacks evidence and a compelling rationale,” he says.

“When it was challenged, we saw the language was ramped up to that of ‘stark warnings’ about the risks of Covid-19.

“Fans have lost loved ones, fans themselves have died, fans are NHS and frontline care workers, they do not need any reminders at all and it is irresponsible to seek to ‘weaponise’ the virus in order to drive home a single option simply because it was challenged and subject to scrutiny.

“Everyone wants to see a return to football, in order to do that I would suggest keep it simple and keep it local. The debate about neutral venues complicates the matter and adds delay.

“From a health perspective, it seems it would mean funnelling multiple teams through the same venues – wouldn’t that increase risk of the spread?

Keeping it local means teams have confidence in their own hygiene and mitigation measures at their ground. It is not being sub-contracted to another club. They own it.

“It seems the neutral venue option was only ever put up on the basis of this unsubstantiated fear of fans gathering en masse and disorder. There is no other health protection measure it seems to cover.

“It must be remembered the police are just one part of the jigsaw here, it is not for the police to decide on the manner of a restart in isolation. I have only ever heard the neutral venue option coming from the police.”

West believes authorities should be engaging with supporters rather than ostracising them.

“Even in their limited protest about the restart of the Bundesliga, the fans were highly responsible, they did not turn up, they set up banners and did so in a socially distanced, very responsible way, far from the chaotic scenes predicted here.

“Clubs can use their influence and networks to best communicate and engage with their fans about the need to stay away. Fans, in the main, listen to their clubs and work with them.

“Supporters have a massive role to play, they are highly creative and innovative and will find imaginative, and no doubt humorous, ways to show their support without going to the ground.

“We must also consider the latest restrictions – people can exercise in an unlimited way. They can walk to the ground or around it and this is the reality stakeholders and police need to understand and work with as opposed to against it.

“In other words, the fans need to be part of the return and not sidelined and ignored.

“They have been part and parcel of their communities in supporting the vulnerable, running and supplying foodbanks, looking out for each other.

“They have showed huge community spirit and collectivism and can be trusted to be involved in talks about how best to get a sport back in a safe way.

“If we take the positive and progressive view I can see little issue in England. It is not the fans that are using the langue of fear and threat.

“They understand a virus which impacts us all and respect the need for a different type of return for a relatively limited period.

“When we get to very high-profile, iconic and promotion or relegation matches, let’s work with fans and trust them for the people they are not the caricatures that have been painted simply to hammer home the neutral venue option.”

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Premier League meeting: What to expect from the latest Project Restart talks today

The Premier League hopes to kickstart ‘Project Restart’ on Monday by securing a vote on a return to non-contact training, as well as smoothing other concerns ahead of another crucial week in securing a 19 June start date.

The 20 clubs and various stakeholders will gather for the latest videoconference early in the morning, to cast their view on phase one of the return.

That is small groups of five players training with three coaches, that fits with graded government guidelines. It also fits with what is seen as a promising new strategy that will gradually secure agreement and a return to football, whereby any concerned parties are convinced by the developing steps taken at every turn.

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The initial Premier League plan was initially to get all clubs to vote on a hard restart date and all the terms around that, but it soon became clear the idea was too broad, with details too unclear at too far a distance.

It was this that saw a lot of concerns arise – primarily in relation to safety – and made it almost impossible to secure consensus.

The hope now is that all parties will be taken along step by step, and that can be seen in the developments of the last week. While players and some clubs were reluctant to sign up to phase two of the plans – which will be full contact training – due to the lack of detail, they feel phase one is clear, and there is a confidence a necessary majority of 14 will be easily struck today.

In the meantime, the clubs and Premier League will put together persuasive proposals for phase two.

The same can be seen with neutral grounds and the new possibility of full home and away fixtures. While some clubs were initially very reluctant to play at stadiums other than their own, with that having proven a huge obstacle, the Premier League has put off any vote on that and sought to go back to government to see if that can be re-assessed.

They are expecting a decision this week, and there is hope it will be agreed to in light of the Bundesliga’s success. The German situation has helped change the thinking. Even if home and away games are turned down, though, it is felt the more collective approach – and evidence of a willingness to explore the most preferable option – would help secure a majority in a vote on neutral grounds.

It is possible that will happen on Friday, depending on this week’s developments.

A large part of Monday’s meeting, according to sources, is to “continue to appease the discontented”.

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Luke Shaw names the toughest player to train against at Manchester United

Paul Pogba is the toughest Manchester United player to train against, reckons Luke Shaw, while he enjoys the daily challenge of competing against Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Shaw has come up against some serious players in training since joining Manchester United from Southampton in 2014, but Pogba now stands out as the trickiest to deal with.

The 24-year-old defender, who has had another injury-troubled season at Old Trafford, says the Frenchman’s physical and technical qualities combined make him a nightmare to try and dispossess.

‘Probably the hardest player to get the ball off is Paul,’ Shaw told the Manchester United website. ‘He’s so big, strong, he’s got quick feet. To be fair, he’s got everything to be the best midfielder in the world.

‘You could ask any player in the team about that. I’d have to pick Paul as the toughest one to train against as well because it’s so tough to get the ball off him – he knows how to shield it away and he’s also got the best quality to deliver shots and passes too.’

The England international was originally asked if there were any teammates he fears in United training, but insists he welcomes the challenge rather than being concerned by their attacking talents.

‘I wouldn’t say “fear” is the right word because I enjoy playing against the likes of Rashy and Martial because they’re tricky, high-quality players and I like that challenge of facing them,’ Shaw continued.

‘Every time I’m facing Anthony, I like to have a little joke around with him, talk to him a lot and tell him: “I’m coming for you.”‘

Shaw has played in 18 Premier League games this season, having struggled with calf and hamstring injuries that have kept him out of the side.

In his six seasons since joining United he has managed just 90 league appearances as fitness issues plague the full-back.

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Premier League return: Balance between safety and normality key, says Gordon Taylor

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor says getting the balance between safety and normality is key in the Premier League returning.

The Premier League is expected to hold conference calls with club captains, managers and medical experts on Wednesday and will focus on the issue of player welfare.

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“It’s never easy when we’ve had over six weeks of being told to stay inside, and the next minutes it’s the start of what’s being perceived as the easing of these restrictions,” Taylor said.

“The players don’t want to be seen as guinea pigs and that will apply to everyone in professional sport.

“It’s about getting the balance of safety and also trying to get back to normality as much as possible.”

Taylor also added that he wanted to attempt to quell any fears BAME players may have about returning to action.

Figures released by NHS England at the end of April showed the continuing trend of people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background being disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Taylor said: “We need to make sure our BAME players are properly protected if there is an incidence of higher rates with those players.

“We need to give everyone confidence that every single safety measure has been taken on their behalf.”

Clubs hope to resume training on Monday, but only if there is an agreement with players and managers following the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier League players will also be required to provide written confirmation that they agree to their club’s new safety measures before they return to group training.

Taylor said returning to training will be a “five-step process” and wants to ensure players that it will be as safe as possible.

“Thinking about returning to training, it’s going to be a staged process. There’s going to be five steps and it’s caution all the way,” he said.

“We’ll put our toe back into the water as things are eased back in, mindful that there could be a backbite and that’s where the medical experts come in.

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Reporter Notebook: What can we expect from the transfer window?

What can we expect from the transfer window? Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper has been getting the opinions of football insiders…

Football is facing an uncertain future. When will it restart? Where will games be played? Who will be watching? All unanswerable right now.

Here’s another: when will the transfer window open? Again, we don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it’ll be like no other since the system was introduced for the 2002/2003 season.

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Over the past few days I’ve spoken to well-placed figures across the football spectrum to ask their views on what might await us when teams can trade again.

Nothing is set in stone, but it looks as though there’ll be plenty of new challenges following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

When might the window open?

Not knowing the dates of the forthcoming window is a major problem, especially as other European leagues might theoretically complete their campaigns before the English season is concluded.

Take Germany, for example – clubs in the Bundesliga could have a trading advantage particularly in the recruitment of players from their own domestic market.

From that point of view it seems imperative that everyone is governed by the same rules, but the feeling is the normal length of the transfer window, comprising some 12 or 13 weeks, could be compressed into half that time.

Who will have money to spend?

From the point of view of clubs who might be looking to buy and sell, there’s still a huge amount of cash unaccounted for across Europe because leagues haven’t been finished, prize money hasn’t been distributed and broadcast deals are frozen.

One estimate puts the total available to European clubs at 20bn euros per season, with 6bn euros of that currently on hold.

It’s not clear what will happen to that cash, with different countries following different restart strategies, but generally, clubs spend what funds they have available to them.

What none of them can rely on right now is matchday revenues. Playing games behind closed doors might be one way to bring football back, but clubs will miss the financial boost provided by fans as much as their support.

The impression I was given was that clubs at the top of English football have already moved into survival mode.

The pause in any action has given clubs time to analyse data on the players they have and the ones they may have targeted prior to the pandemic.

Clubs don’t have any opportunities to scout players, so any existing data they have or can glean becomes precious.

Will the market be affected?

One thing most people seem to agree upon is that we’ll know the state of the market once the first major deal goes through, but it’ll be intriguing to see who blinks first with all of Europe’s major teams trying to get a handle on valuations and wages.

It would be a brave club to head into the window and do early business as we may have seen in previous years. Someone will have to go first, but most will sit and wait to get some sort of feel for the market conditions.

Working out how much potential targets are now worth and the value of players clubs might be looking to sell is something exercising the minds of recruitment teams up and down the country.

One estimate given to me is that players at the top of the game may only be worth 50-60 per cent of what they would have cost last summer and what that might mean is we see a lot more free transfers, swap deals and bigger buy-on and sell-on clauses to claw back cash for buyers and sellers alike.

FFP to be suspended?

It was also suggested to me that one solution to allow money to flow back into all levels of the game would be the halting of Financial Fair Play for up to two years, but how would UEFA apply the brakes on that again?

Will transfer tactics change?

The summer window is the one managers and their staff have usually had time to plan and go after their targets.

Many of the bigger clubs spend February and March narrowing their search parameters and honing in on the players they want or positions they need to fill.

Clearly that landscape has changed, it might be that this time round, players identified early in the Spring are no longer available.

It was put to me that we might see transfer spending in this window at the levels of three years ago. There will still be multi-million pound deals but more commonly they could be in single digits rather than double or triple digits.

Another ingredient to add to the mix, and it’s another uncertain one, is the effect of Brexit and whether the window to come might be the last opportunity for teams to have a free-run at players across the European Leagues, especially young talent who might be almost impossible to sign once the new regulations come into force.

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