Premier League: Brighton chief tells players to speak out over concerns

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Paul Barber
Brighton chief executive says it is important to keep the Premier League players informed "every step of the way"

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has encouraged Premier League players to speak up if worried over coronavirus return-to-training protocols.

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Watford captain Troy Deeney are among those deciding not to train since players were allowed back to their clubs this week.

Barber reports no issues at Brighton.

But he said: "We want players to have the freedom to speak as they feel they need to."

Further talks are still needed over the start of contact training at Premier League clubs and - eventually - matches.

Should all that be agreed, Brighton would resume in 15th place in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone.

"It is very important we bring players along with us every step of the way," said Barber.

"They should be allowed to express their concerns. Players suppressing their fears does not make any sense to me because the fear is still there."

Government officials have said discussions over contact work at training grounds should take place fairly quickly.

Barber feels these talks will involve greater detail than the initial discussions over the return-to-training protocol currently in place.

However, he also expects them to take place in a different atmosphere given the reduction in the daily number of deaths.

"The first stage was difficult and took a long time because it was new, it was very detailed and when it was first conceived we were very much in the height of this pandemic and the numbers were horrific," he said.

"The second stage is in a slightly different environment where the numbers are coming down, the government is slowly easing the lockdown and encouraging people to return to work.

"Having said that, the risks of the next stage of the protocol are higher because we are asking for larger groups to come together and for there to be contact. Playing contact will change that again because we are mixing a very different group mixing our group.

"It is going to take time and it is going to be even more detailed and will no doubt lead to more questions from the players."

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