West Brom manager Slaven Bilic has admitted that he is concerned about the impact that a change in training will have on his players before the season gets back underway.
The Baggies are set to return to training next week, with a view to restarting the season at some point in June, although training is set to look significantly different to what it did before football’s suspension, as a result of the current circumstances, something which does seem to be a worry for Bilic.
Explaining just what training involves for his side at the minute, Bilic told Birmingham Live: “They have been arriving in groups of three but we have respected all the rules regarding their safety and they have done their exercises in isolation.
“Now, next week, we can start to work in groups of five without contact. We are in a position that we can do not only basic things. It’s only the number of players limited us at the moment to do like proper sessions.”
Explaining the impact that those restricted sessions could have on his from a fitness perspective, Bilic – who does at least seem pleased with his squad’s current physical condition – continued: “Considering their fitness at the moment, it can’t be any better. The problem now, of course, is it’s a different kind of fitness because there’s no contact and no specific situations that football brings.
“Unfortunately there’s no way to compensate that training within the socially-distanced measures.
It’s not ideal but it’s not ideal for every time. Considering everything, we are very, very pleased.”
It also appears as though the lack of a definite date for the season’s resumption is posing a headache for Bilic, who added: “With timing, with the number of sessions, with resting, with numbers of days off because we didn’t want them to burn out – that was the big danger.
“The biggest problem at the beginning was nobody knew the timeframes. That was the key thing. When you are doing the pre-season, you’re constructing and planning is based on the first game.
“Now, we still don’t know the key fact when we’re going to play. We’ve had a guess and a gamble a little bit (on first match back) and, so far, I think we’ve made the right decisions.”
West Brom will be looking to secure their promotion back to the Premier League when the season eventually gets back underway, with the Baggies currently second in the Championship table, six points clear of third-placed Fulham in the race for automatic promotion.
You do have to feel somewhat for Bilic here.
With all the uncertainty there is around football and beyond at the minute, it is not going to be easy to prepare a side for returning to action in the near future, only putting further pressure on the Baggies in the promotion race.
That being said, every other team in the division will find themselves in the same position as West Brom here, meaning they are at least not alone in facing these concerns as they prepare to get their campaign back underway.