Politics

Gerrard: Villa player scared to leave car


Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has said anxiety over Covid-19 is reaching such a level that one of his players was reluctant to get out of their car.

An outbreak at Villa forced their match against Burnley last Saturday to be postponed at short notice, and Gerrard says it will be a “nightmare” if the club have to tackle two matches in two days with just 14 players available.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson insists player welfare is not taken seriously in England, as clubs manage the usual congested festive programme alongside a resurgence in Covid cases, and Villa boss Gerrard said the situation is becoming almost impossible to manage.

“We had a situation at the weekend where one of the players was reluctant to get out of his car because he had some symptoms and he’s got a young family, and you can totally understand his view,” Gerrard said.

“No-one wants to get this virus. Everyone wants to protect their own families. This is our job and your priority is always going to be your family, of course it is.

“Thankfully he was tested after and he didn’t have a situation, but that player would not have been available for me on the day. These are the little situations that people don’t see.

“We’ve got a major responsibility to listen to the players.”

Premier League clubs agreed to continue the season on Monday despite a season-high 90 positive Covid cases recorded last week which led to six out of 10 top-flight matches due to be played last weekend being called off.

Villa are due to host Chelsea on Boxing Day and travel to Leeds two days later. Asked how they would manage if they had only 14 players available, Gerrard said: “We’re going to need a bit of luck, we’re going to need some testing results to go our way.

“Hopefully we won’t be in that situation, but if you are, that is a nightmare, simple as that.”

The Premier League is hosting virtual managers’ and captains’ meetings on Thursday to listen to their respective concerns.

But Reds skipper Henderson said: “I am concerned that nobody really takes player welfare seriously.

“Of course we want to play as footballers, we want to get out there and play, but I am worried about player welfare and I don’t think anybody does take that seriously enough, especially in this period, when Covid is here.

“I don’t feel the players get the respect they deserve in terms of having somebody being able to speak for them independently and having the power to say ‘actually this isn’t right for player welfare’.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said: “Without the players we can do nothing, so we have to really listen to the players because they are the ones that have to be there.

“They are the ones who have to perform. It is the same with the fans, because this industry, it wouldn’t work without those two.”



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