Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has said he has felt ‘very comfortable’ returning to training this week, with the club ensuring that a ‘very high level’ of care is being taken in order to protect players and staff and minimise the risks.
But even though he personally feels happy to be back training, Henderson also said that he respects other players - like Watford counterpart Troy Deeney - who are staying away over safety concerns.
Premier League players have been given permission to resume training this week in limited sessions with in small groups no bigger than five, all with a view to restarting Premier League games in June.
Deeney has been unfairly criticised over his decision to avoid Watford training, with the risk to the health and safety of his family – and particularly his infant son with breathing difficulties, understandably coming first in the list of priorities for the Hornets skipper.
Newcastle full-back Danny Rose has likened footballers to ‘guinea pigs or lab rats’ – similar comments were made by Wayne Rooney back in March – while it has been reported that Chelsea could allow N’Golo Kante to miss the remainder of the season owing to his personal fears.
Henderson is satisfied Liverpool are ensuring that players, staff and their families will be safe.
“I feel very comfortable with all the measures the Premier League and the club have put in place, along with all my other team-mates,” the Reds midfielder told Sky Sports.
“We feel comfortable and that’s why we’re here training. In terms of next steps, obviously we’ll be guided by the experts and the doctors who ultimately know more than we do,” he added, hinting Liverpool players wouldn’t be back if they had any worries over safety.
“We’ve had meetings and questions as captains over the last week or so, but ultimately, I think the Premier League and clubs are doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible.
“The testing, the temperature control, the social distancing and the disinfecting of everything has been a really high level since we came back.”
Henderson, who was behind the #PlayersTogether movement that has seen Premier League footballers create a fund to donate some of their wages to the NHS, fully respects any player who does not wish to return to training and insists none should ‘feel forced or pressured’.
"I fully respect the lads that don’t feel comfortable as of yet, and I hope that they respect my opinion and that of the other players who have come back,” he said.
“Everybody’s situation is different but ultimately, for me, I feel very safe here at the training ground, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. My team-mates as well. I can only really speak for us, but I fully respect people in different situations who don’t feel comfortable. If any of my team-mates felt like that, I would fully support them and back them until they felt it was right to come back.”