Phased return for Aston Villa squad following coronavirus outbreak

Dean Smith has revealed Villa players who tested positive for coronavirus will make a staggered return to training as the club restart their season.

A general view of match action at an empty Villa Park (AMA)
A general view of match action at an empty Villa Park (AMA)

The bulk of Villa’s squad returned to Bodymoor Heath yesterday to begin preparations for Wednesday’s trip to Manchester City. But some players remain in isolation while others are still recovering from the effects of Covid-19.

Bodymoor was closed for 10 days after nine players and 14 members of staff in total returned positive tests, forcing the postponement of Villa’s Premier League fixtures against Tottenham and Everton.

Smith said: “The hardest part is they all come back at different stages. Some have the symptoms earlier than others.

“We are trying to get a timetable of when they will all come back. When we go back we have 23 big games to play and they will come thick and fast.

“This period has given me some time for reflection, a chance to go and talk to individual players and plan for the rest of the season. It’s been a tough period but we have to make sure we worry first and foremost about the people who have tested positive and make sure they make a healthy return.”

Asked about the health of those who had tested positive, Smith replied: “There has been a mixture. I told one player he had tested positive and his response was: ‘No chance, I’m flying, I feel good’.

“He was totally asymptomatic. Two days later he was laid up in bed. Some have had symptoms, some haven’t.”

Smith also praised the efforts of Villa’s medical staff and in particular club doctor Ricky Shamji.

He said: “Ricky has been outstanding in all of this. The be-all and end-all is our duty of care to our players, our staff and also the families they go home to as well.”

Villa have been linked with a move for Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson. The 26-year-old is also being tracked by Arsenal and Tottenham.

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