Sheffield United fall into line by telling players to train at home

Sheffield United have told their players to train at home, falling into line with the rest of the Premier League over the coronavirus pandemic.

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Blades players have been given individualised training plans to follow.

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There has been no set line from the Premier League or Football League about whether its teams should train together or individually since suspending all matches from March 13 to try to help contain the spread of coronavirus, but as the lay-off continued, clubs had increasingly been leaning towards the latter. Sheffield United were the last to decide to take that course of action.

Chris Wilder has changed his views on behind-closed-doors football as the coronavirus pandemic has developed

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne revealed last week the Millers had been in discussions with their near-neighbours about playing a behind-closed-doors friendly with two skeleton staffs last week to allow players to keep their fitness ticking over. Warne added there would be “ no unnecessary contact”.

On Football League advice, they shelved the idea, but the Blades did play an in-house friendly at their Shirecliffe training ground on Thursday.

Government advice on social distancing became increasingly stringent as the week progressed, and the players' union, the Professional Footballers' Association, was thought to be putting pressure on clubs to stop its members training together as a group.

Initially, manager Chris Wilder was of the view that the Premier League should not be played behind closed doors but thinking and advice is changing all the time, and he now thinks it could be a necessary evil to be sure the campaign is completed. Matches will not be played until April 30 at the earliest, but the Premier League has expressed a wish to finish the campaign.

“At first, I didn’t want to play the remaining games behind closed doors but my point of view now is that, if that is what it has to be in order to finish the season, then that is what it has to be,” he said.

“There’s no compromise in this. We have to finish the season, however long it takes.

“The idea of freezing positions as they are now is not for me, even though you look at the table and think it wouldn’t be a bad result for this club from a selfish point of view.”

The Blades are seventh in the Premier League, which would qualify them for next season's Europa League unless Manchester City are able to overturn their ban from European competition for breaking financial fair play rules, or are allowed to continue until an appeal is heard.

Winning their game in hand would take them to fifth, which would bring Champions League football with the same caveats. Sheffield United have ten league matches to play, all their Bramall Lane games against sides also hoping to qualify for Europe, and were drawn at home to Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals.