Watford captain refuses to return to training

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Watford captain Troy Deeney says he will not return to training this week amid concerns for his own son’s health and has raised concerns over the increased risk to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) players.

Premier League clubs unanimously voted in favour of resuming training in small groups from Tuesday as English football’s top tier plots its return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are due back in this week but I have said I am not going in,” Deeney said.

“My son is five months and he’s had breathing difficulties. I don’t want to come home and put him in more danger. You’ve got to drive in in your own kit, you can’t have showers, then drive back in the same dirty kit you’ve got.

“If I’m putting my clothing in with my son’s or my missus’ it’s more likely to be in the house.”

The Office for National Statistics says black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die from coronavirus as white people in England and Wales.

Last Wednesday, Deeney was in a meeting with the Premier League, other team captains and medical experts.

He said: “My problem was in the meeting, I asked very simple questions.

“For black, Asian and mixed ethnicities, they’re four times more likely to get the illness, they’re twice as likely to have long lasting illnesses – is there anything extra, additional screening, heart stuff to see if people have got problems with that? No. OK, well I feel that should be addressed.

“I can’t get a haircut until mid-July but I can go and get in a box with 19 people and go and jump for a header and nobody could answer the questions, not because they didn’t want to, just because they don’t know the information.

“So I said if you don’t know the information, why would I put myself at risk?”

At Monday’s meeting, Premier League clubs agreed to stage one of the return-to-training protocols. As well as training being restricted to groups of no more than five, sessions must last no longer than 75 minutes for each player. Social distancing must be adhered to.

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By BBC Sports

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