Man City star Raheem Sterling raises concerns with Premier League football returning

Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling has become the latest high-profile footballer to raise doubts about the Premier League returning.

Sergio Aguero claimed he spoke for the majority of players when he used words including scared, tense, and careful to describe how he felt about the prospect of being whisked back into training grounds while the majority of the country is still in lockdown.

The UK government has emphasised a cautious approach for society, with Boris Johnson announcing no significant changes to social lockdown policy in a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening.

But the idea of football returning during this time has been described as a boost for collective morale, and the Premier League and its clubs also have financial reasons for wanting the season restarted and completed.

Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Sterling’s comments show that effort is still needed to convince the players it is safe to return.

“We all want to get back to football but at the same time there’s a pandemic going on,” he said.

“The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us footballers but the whole medical staff, referees. I don’t know how that’s going to work but I feel like once that side of the people’s safety and the player’s safety is is secured and their wellbeing is looked after then that’s the right time to go back in.

“Until then, I’m…how can I say…not scared but reserved and thinking what the worst outcome could be. At the same time I’m looking forward to it and I really want to get back but hopefully it will all be well when we do get back.”

City forward Sterling also expects a minimum of two weeks will be needed to get back up to the sharpness he was at when football was paused two months ago.

Kevin De Bruyne warned last month about the risk of injuries if play is started too soon without proper time for everyone to work their way back up to speed.

Sterling has been one of the more well-positioned footballers in that he has had outdoor space to work regularly with a football, but is anticipating a lighter version of pre-season will still be required.

“Because I’ve been in the garden and had the ball at my feet quite a lot and doing a lot of drills I don’t think it will be as weird as coming from three or four weeks holiday in the summer because literally [then] I don’t touch a football and shut down,” he said.

“I don’t think it will be as weird but it will still be weird to get into full motion top speed and changing direction and one action you will be burnt out so it will take a good two or three weeks to get back into that rhythm flowing and playing to your best.”

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