Newcastle boss Bruce will respect decision if players refuse to play due to coronavirus concerns

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has insisted that he will respect any player's decision to refuse to play due to coronavirus concerns when – and indeed if – Premier League football resumes.

Several players, such as Willian, Sergio Aguero, Troy Deeney and Danny Rose, have spoken out and expressed a reluctance to be forced back into action prematurely.

And Bruce, along with Watford manager Nigel Pearson, is understanding of his charges' concerns as Newcastle players begin to return to training in a limited capacity.

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"We've listened to what has been said and, with the precautions taken, we will get back to work and start phase one," Bruce told The Telegraph.

"Can we get to that stage where we can have all the players on the pitch together? We don't know yet.

"Phase one will be mainly fitness work, four or five players on a pitch. Let's see how we get on [and hope there are no infections]."

Additionally, Bruce was keen to stress the need for players to be given the time to get back to full fitness, and insisted that - whatever the situation regarding Covid-19 - football should not resume until the end of June at the earliest.

"We need enough preparation time to get these players into shape or they are just going to fall down like a pack of cards," Bruce continued.

"Most of the managers have the same concerns. We would need at least six weeks. I don't see how we can play games until the back end of June."

"If a player refuses to come in or play, I have sympathy for that and would understand it. Most of my players are happy with it.

"There was a captain's meeting the other day as well and, as a squad, they are happy with the measures that are being put in place. You have to respect everybody's personal views on it."

In Germany, Bundesliga football has just made a well-publicised return behind closed doors, while in France, Paris Saint-Germain have been awarded the Ligue 1 title and the season has been ended.

The Premier League has yet to announce definitive plans on how the season should be concluded, however, as the UK remains in lockdown.

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