Players must decide if they’re ready to return, says Jackett

PORTSMOUTH manager Kenny Jackett has insisted that no member of his squad will be ‘forced’ to train when football returns following the lockdown.

Whereas certain countries like the Netherlands have effectively cancelled their football season, the Premier League and English Football League are still intent on completing the current campaign.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Brighton and West Ham have opened their training grounds to players for individual work this week, with others expected to follow in the near future.

Pompey players have been attempting to retain their fitness with individual programmes drawn up by the club’s coaching staff, and Jackett will speak to the squad individually ahead of any return to full training.

“I would never want to force anyone to play – in any situation – because you don’t get the best out of people,” said Jackett, who had five of his squad test positive for Covid-19, with none displaying serious symptoms.

“I will be speaking to everyone and I know their feelings, with different family situations. They may be in a unit where someone is in a vulnerable category and I do think decisions have to be made on an individual basis.

“All our players speak and communicate well and have a good take on the current situation we are in.”

UEFA has told the various football associations it wants to know by May 25 whether football leagues plans to complete or cancel their seasons, with the EFL pencilling in May 16 as a date for a return to training. The EFL believe they can complete the season in 56 days, including the play-offs, with most clubs having either nine or ten games of the normal campaign remaining.

Jackett is in regular contact with most of his squad and believes what they want most is to get back to playing football.

"They are genuinely missing football at the moment and wanting to come back to it if they can,” said Jackett, speaking to the club website, “That being said, it is an individual matter for everyone and won’t necessarily be uniform across the whole squad.

“As far as I’m concerned everybody’s personal situation and views should be listened to and respected.”