Covid-19: Player welfare not taken seriously enough, says Liverpool’s Henderson
Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders said it was ‘absurd’ to play twice in four days while several key players were missing due to Covid-19.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said players’ well-being is not being taken seriously enough following the Premier League’s decision to continue playing despite an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Ten league games were postponed this month due to outbreaks and 90 new cases of Covid-19 were detected among players and staff last week, but the clubs agreed on Monday to abide by the busy holiday schedule.
Liverpool assistant coach Pep Lijnders said it was “absurd” to play twice in four days while missing several key players due to Covid-19 and injuries, while Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said the health and the safety of the players were at risk.
“I don’t think people can appreciate how intense it is until you see it first hand,” Henderson told BBC Sport on Wednesday.
“Football for us is everything and we want to be able to perform at the highest level every time we step on the pitch. And sadly, in this period it is difficult to do that.
“That has been the case for a few years and it has been difficult, but then on top of that, you throw yourself into Covid and it becomes even more difficult and worse.
“I am concerned that no one is really taking the well-being of the players seriously.
“I think decisions are made, of course we want to play, as footballers we want to go out and play, but I am concerned about the well-being of the players and I don’t think anyone takes it seriously enough, especially in this period, when Covid is here. .
“We will try to have conversations in the background and try to have some kind of influence going forward, but right now I don’t feel like the players are getting the respect they deserve in terms of having someone who can speak for them independently and have the power to say that this is not actually correct for the well-being of the player. “
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard said dealing with the well-being of the players is currently “a challenge.”
“I respect his (Henderson’s) opinion,” Gerrard, a former Liverpool and England captain, told a news conference.
“I think there are two sides to this; the well-being of the player from a Covid situation, which I think everyone in life in general is trying to deal with, protect themselves and their families, but also from a football point of view to deal with this situation when you go to 26, December 28th.
“You are also concerned about the well-being of a player from a football point of view. Trying to handle and deal with those situations is challenging right now. “
Aston Villa’s Premier League match against Burnley was postponed on Saturday, but Gerrard hopes the team’s Boxing Day match against Chelsea will go ahead.
“Hopefully we are not in that situation, but we are going to need a little luck, we are going to need some test results to continue our way,” Gerrard said, referring to the disturbing increase in Covid cases in Villa’s camp that led to the postponement of Burnley’s game.
“Hopefully we’re not in that situation, but if we are, it’s a nightmare, plain and simple.
“We had a situation at the weekend where one of the players was reluctant to get out of his car because he had some symptoms and he has a young family and you can fully understand his opinion about his situation.
“Fortunately, they tested him afterwards and he didn’t have a situation, but that player would not have been available to me that day and these are the little situations that people don’t see.”