Premier League legend explains why Project Restart could actually make players and their families safer from coronavirus

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Former Premier League star Robbie Fowler has explained why it might actually be safer for players and their families if they agree to get back to playing.

It remains to be seen if the much-discussed Project Restart can definitely be a success, but BBC Sport and others have reported on a return to football looking closer with a possible return date in mid June.

There are inevitably going to be some players concerned about coming back amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Fowler insists he’d be itching to get back on the pitch if he were still playing now.

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The former Liverpool man has discussed the issue in his column in the Daily Mirror, and has actually made what sounds like a sensible point about the safety of players and their families.

While no one should be forced to play if they don’t want to, anyone feeling anxious about returning could do well to take a look at Fowler’s analysis.

He says that with so much regular testing in place for players, it means anyone who contracts the illness (which seems increasingly unlikely anyway at the moment following the apparent success of UK lockdown measures), would become aware that they had it earlier, which would mean they could potentially isolate from others quicker and prevent it spreading further.

And while Covid-19 is generally much more dangerous for the elderly or for those with underlying health conditions, if a Premier League footballer were to suffer complications, they would likely make a better recovery for having had a positive test early.

The Bundesliga returned over the weekend, so let’s hope this shows it can be done safely and that we soon see other leagues follow suit.

“Footballers will be able to have their levels checked throughout the day,” Fowler said.

“They are young and fit too, so not in the highly dangerous over-75 category.

“And when people speak about the risk of having vulnerable family members at home, again, the testing programme could help.

“If they are checked and there are signs of the virus, then they can isolate, away from those family members. Straight away.

“If a footballer caught Covid-19 outside that bubble, then it may be days before they knew they had it, if at all. And that’s a much greater risk to ­family.

“There will be ­incredible ­precautions, too.

“Isolation from the wider public, as ­footballers tend to do ­anyway. Extreme safety measures taken at work as well, such as deep cleans, ­protective ­equipment and strategic plans.”

Fowler added that the argument about taking tests away from health workers and carers is also misplaced.

He said: “Of course, there is the argument that playing with all this testing and personal protective equipment takes away resources from the NHS.

“To me, that is just going back to taking pot-shots at football for the sake of it, like when ­players were singled out for not taking pay cuts, even as ­billionaires in tax havens were pocketing taxpayers’ cash.

“Where is the Premier League ­getting these tests from – out of hospital ­stockrooms? No, they are ­available to buy and our Government can buy them. They just haven’t done a very good job of doing that. In fact, they’ve been ­rubbish. But there is no global shortage.”

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