Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has suggested that the Blades first-team squad would be ready to play a competitive game immediately if called on to do so.
Other managers, such as Newcastle boss Steve Bruce, have stated that players could need up to six weeks to recover their match fitness following two months without training.
However, Wilder has dismissed those claims, saying that his stars had been keeping in very good shape during the enforced break in fixtures. Asked when his team could play, he replied:
“Tomorrow afternoon. They want to compete now and are competitors. To be a footballer, you have to got to do a lot of things right to have a career. To get to the Premier League and in this position, they (players) have not had their heads stuck in a fridge. They have come back in magnificent shape and shown a responsibility to their profession to keep themselves in good nick.”
“It is a different scenario. People keep talking about the length of time (without football). But they have not been to Dubai or (Las) Vegas or wherever they go in these beach clubs and parties and drinking and eating whatever they want. They have kept themselves in brilliant nick.”
“They knew that the season was paused – and that is what it was. It wasn’t postponed or finished before the Newcastle game (scheduled for March 14), it was paused. We have done our testing and are delighted with how everyone has come through. Everybody is fit and healthy.”
Wilder’s words are likely to fall on death ears, though, with it being reported that the Premier League will delay the season’s return until June 19th in order to give clubs more time to prepare.
By that point, it would have been three months since the last round of league fixture and, with UEFA looking for seasons to be completed by the end of July, it could lead to a very busy schedule if the campaign gets back up and running.