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Redknapp: 'A lot more' will quit training

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Jamie Redknapp

Football Expert & Columnist

"If you've got a squad of 22, 23 players and six or seven are not comfortable, they think they're putting their families at risk, how is that a fair competition?"

Last Updated: 21/05/20 2:22pm

1:44 Jamie Redknapp tells The Football Show the Premier League return will not be a ‘fair competition’ if more players decide not to restart training Jamie Redknapp tells The Football Show the Premier League return will not be a ‘fair competition’ if more players decide not to restart training

Many more players will withdraw from Premier League training and could create an "unfair competition", Jamie Redknapp told The Football Show.

Troy Deeney and N'Golo Kante are the only two players staying away from their clubs out of choice since Premier League sides restarted training earlier this week, with both concerned about the health risks of a return to work.

After speaking to a number of managers about the subject, Redknapp said he expected others to follow suit before the league's tentative June 12 target for its first round of fixtures, and thinks this could begin to affect the integrity of the domestic top flight.

"I've spoken to managers, there's a lot more to come out that just don't feel right about it," he said. "That's going to be a major problem. If you've got a squad of 22, 23 players and six or seven are not comfortable, they think they're putting their families at risk, how is that a fair competition? It becomes a real Premier League problem. It doesn't become fair.

4:35 Watford head coach Nigel Pearson says the club will respect the decisions of players who decide they do not want to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic Watford head coach Nigel Pearson says the club will respect the decisions of players who decide they do not want to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic

"Some managers have come out now and said it's going to be a fair situation no matter what happens, but if you're going to lose three or four players, and Troy Deeney's the captain of Watford, that's not a fair competition.

"I do think it's going to get harder and harder, I think you're going to see more players coming out and saying they're not sure about playing, they're not sure about what's going on. So you've just got to take each incident in isolation."

Players nervous to come forward?

Redknapp, who played Premier League football from 1992 to 2005, said he would have agreed to any demand to return to the training ground as a player but, even in an increased era of player welfare, that some would still be nervous about being seen to go against their clubs' wishes.

"It's so difficult for players right now," he said, "a lot of them are keen to come and get started, but there will be others like N'Golo Kante who are nervous, and are looking at underlying health problems, and believe if they come back and give the virus to someone, how would they feel about that going forward?

1:29 Any concerns Premier League players have around returning to training are 'totally understandable', says Kick It Out's Troy Townsend Any concerns Premier League players have around returning to training are 'totally understandable', says Kick It Out's Troy Townsend

"If he says he doesn't want to play, I think Frank Lampard would be the first to say that's fine, but there will be a lot of players who are nervous to say they're not comfortable because they're worried about the repercussions, people who'll say you should play, you should be out there, you earn this much money.

"Of course, safety is paramount right now. But I do get it, it's such an unprecedented, difficult situation for players right now. I try to put myself in their shoes and say what would I do? In my era, I would've just done as I was told. If a manager says turn up for training, you do it.

"Players now have more of an understanding, more of a voice, they have agents who can help them in this situation, and it's a lot easier for players in a situation like this to say they don't feel right."

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