Premier League 'Project Restart': Troy Deeney and Grant Hanley raise concerns

Troy Deeney
Deeney's Watford are 17th in the Premier League table

Watford captain Troy Deeney says he is "not going to put his family at risk" amid concerns he has about the Premier League's plans to restart the season.

The striker, 31, said he would not play if he felt he was putting his family's health was in jeopardy.

His concerns were echoed by Norwich captain Grant Hanley, who said he would be worried about returning home to his pregnant partner.

Both players were involved with talks with the Premier League this week.

A conference call took place on Wednesday between the league, players, medical staff and the Professional Footballers' Association - the players' union - to discuss 'Project Restart'.

On Thursday, the government said it was "opening the door" for the return of professional football in England in June.

The Premier League hopes for a return to action on 12 June, with matches played behind closed doors.

"I'm not even talking about football at the moment - I'm talking about my family's health," Deeney said on Instagram.

"If I feel that I'm not looking after my family, then I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to put my family at risk.

"What are they going to do, take money off me? I've been broke before so it doesn't bother me.

"They're talking about not playing in front of fans until 2021. So if it's not safe enough for fans to be inside a stadium, why should it be safe for players to be in there?"

The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March because of the Covid-19 pandemic and most teams have nine fixtures left to play.

Deeney's side Watford were outside the relegation zone on goal difference when the season was halted; Hanley's Norwich were bottom of the table, six points from a position of safety.

Other players, including Tottenham defender Danny Rose and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, have also previously raised concerns about the plan to restart.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Thursday that football will only return "if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first".

"I think the overall feeling is that players have got concerns," defender Hanley told Sky Sports. "There's just so much uncertainty."

The 28-year-old added: "My missus is pregnant and she's due at the start of July, so there's obviously worries there for myself.

"Every team and player has got different views on it. Some lads have obviously got vulnerable family members or whatever.

"Ultimately it's putting your family at risk that is the main concern."

All Premier League players will be screened and tested repeatedly as the top-flight aims for a potential return.

It is estimated the Premier League are paying Hong Kong-based company Prenetics £4m for 40,000 home testing kits, with the information retained on a central data base.

But Watford keeper Ben Foster says footballers possibly being tested at the expense of medical workers "should not happen".

"Footballers are not essential key workers, we shouldn't have access to tests before frontline workers," he told BBC Newsbeat.

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