The Chelsea squad returned to training earlier this week as the club gear up for a long-awaited Premier League return.
The competition has been suspended since mid-March but you get the feeling that a return, albeit behind-closed-doors, is not too far away, particularly with the German Bundesliga proving that staging football matches once again is possible.
With players thought to need around three weeks of training to return to full match fitness, could Saturday 13 June be the date that Chelsea fans should pencil into their diaries?
It is certainly a possibility. Coronavirus testing has been going on at Cobham this week and it seems as though Chelsea are clear at this time. Should this continue to be the case, The Blues should have no real health and fitness concerns ahead of a potential 13 June restart.
The Premier League are working closely with the Government over the competition’s swift return and strict health and safety guidelines will be in place. The question mark is over whether players will back a return to action. Blues midfielder N’Golo Kante has already raised his concerns over his safety, as has Watford striker Troy Deeney. If players do not feel comfortable to take the risk, they won’t be forced to participate. The overall early indications are that clubs are ready to return though and most players will back the move, providing that there is sufficient safety in place.
The main outstanding matter of debate which must be resolved is regarding where games will be played. Both the Premier League and the Government were initially looking at a select group of neutral venues to stage the remaining fixtures, however, this plan was opposed by clubs. Unless an agreement can be made for clubs to play at their home grounds, this could be a major stumbling block.
In summary, with clubs having returned to training and the number of Coronavirus cases having decreased in recent weeks, the return of the Premier League next month is certainly a possibility. With testing across the competition having been a success, it seems like we are close to a return if an agreement can be made on where fixtures will be played and when.