Liverpool have taken their first step towards a return to normality by partially re-opening its Melwood training base to some players this week, Goal can confirm.
A number of Jurgen Klopp’s squad – although by no means all of them – have returned to the Reds’ West Derby base, which had been under lockdown since the middle of March.
Groups of three players have been allowed to use outdoor training spaces at any one time since Monday.
They have, in line with Government advice, been instructed to adhere to strict social distancing rules, but each player has been given access to an individual space which they can use for up to an hour, with their progress monitored from a distance by a single member of the club’s medical staff.
Access to the Melwood building itself is forbidden, with the club insisting that the players’ return is simply a practical one. Some players have found themselves unable to train in public parks or run on streets near to their homes because of the attention they attract.
None of the Reds’ coaching staff, Klopp included, have returned, with group sessions still being conducted remotely via Zoom, where players and staff join in with daily stretching and fitness sessions. Players are given their own individual running programmes to follow in their own time, as they look to keep themselves ticking over fitness-wise.
The news comes with the Premier League targeting a league-wide return to training – albeit in small groups initially – from May 18 as part of its ‘Project Restart’ proposal.
This will be discussed at length at Monday’s stakeholders meeting, which will follow a Sunday briefing from Boris Johnson, in which the Prime Minister is expected to take the first steps towards lifting the nationwide lockdown measures which have been in place for more than seven weeks.
In terms of resuming the Premier League season, which has been suspended since March 13 due to the Covid-19 crisis, Liverpool are one of the clubs who would benefit most. Klopp’s side were 25 points clear at the top of the table at the pause, and required just two more wins to clinch their first league title since 1990.
The Reds have, however, kept a dignified silence as speculation around them has flowed during the intervening period. A divide between the league’s bottom six clubs and the rest of the division, which centres over concerns about player safety as well as the proposed use of neutral venues for the remaining league fixtures, has threatened to delay or even scupper the restart, but sources have told Goal that there remains a strong will within the league to resume games at some point in June.