Watford manager Nigel Pearson has joined the growing number of managers to speak out against the proposed restart of the Premier League, insisting that those involved are 'closing their eyes' to the real threat of virus-related fatalities.
'Project Restart' could see teams return to training at some point in the next week, with a full return to competitive action currently pencilled in for mid-June.
However, the Premier League's plans have been met with fierce resistance from both players and managers, and Pearson told The Times that people need to accept that a premature return could put the lives of players or their families at risk.
“God forbid we have a fatality,” Pearson said. “People are closing their eyes to the threat.
“Yes, we would like to restart it but it’s got to be safe. We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. It’s about safeguarding people’s health.
"We have to try to believe [Government] advice that we're being given that we've reached the peak but there's still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this. The death toll in the UK is anything between 33,000 and 38,000. That's filling our stadium and then filling it half again. It's a sobering thought."
Pearson is by no means alone in voicing his concerns. Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce also joined the fun, telling The Telegraph that the league should delay its return until the threat of infection is even lower, which would also allow players time to work on their fitness.
“We’ve listened to what has been said and, with the precautions taken, we will get back to work and start phase one,” Bruce said. “Can we get to that stage where we can have all the players on the pitch together? We don’t know yet.
“Phase one will be mainly fitness work, four or five players on a pitch. Let’s see how we get on [and hope there are no infections].
You have to remember that they have had eight weeks off and that is probably the longest break some of these players have had in their careers.
“We need enough preparation time to get these players into shape or they are just going to fall down like a pack of cards. Most of the managers have the same concerns. We would need at least six weeks. I don’t see how we can play games until the back end of June.”