Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling and OL Reign captain Megan Rapinoe have insisted that players need to be given time to prepare before they are asked to return to competitive action.
Due to Covid-19, the vast majority of top-level football has been either suspended or called off entirely, with countries enforcing lockdown measures across the world.
However, as domestic leagues seek to plan for a return to action and the completion of their seasons – with the Bundesliga paving the way by resuming behind closed doors this weekend – Sterling and Rapinoe highlighted an important issue facing the footballers that have been in lockdown.
Players have been largely unable to train or play and, as a result, have suffered a loss of fitness which will take time to build up before full match sharpness is achieved.
“However long I’ve been in lockdown, that’s the length that my pre-season needs to be,” Rapinoe said on Raheem Sterling’s official YouTube channel. “I can’t just jump back into it.”
Sterling agreed wholeheartedly, citing the difference in the fitness levels required to play a friendly game and a competitive match at the highest level.
“You can’t come back in [to playing matches] with one and a half weeks, two weeks [training],” Sterling said. “You need a full four or five weeks.
“Especially if you’re going back into competition, you’re not playing friendlies, you’re playing to win and it’s going to count for something. You do need that preparation, definitely, you can’t just go straight back into it.”
Football’s return already faces several logistical issues, with a multitude of players expressing concerns over the increased risk of infection they will be exposed to if they are asked to play prematurely.
In addition, players may indeed require a period of training akin to a pre-season in order to return to full fitness and lower the risk of injuries when they do eventually play once more.
It will certainly be a tough task to arrange a suitable time for football to return in a manner that prioritises the safety of the participants, particularly within the stacked football calendar that must now be rearranged.