• Chelsea propose increase to nine substitutes for remainder of EPL season

    Chelsea have put forward a proposal to the Premier League requesting an increase in bench size from seven to nine, which would bring an increase in options for managers during matches ahead of Project Restart.

    This would increase squad sizes on match days from 18 to 20 as Premier League shareholders are set to meet on Thursday ahead of a vote on June 11.

    The Premier League is also going to discuss whether to allow managers to increase the use of substitutes from three to five, but that is not something that was first proposed by the west Londoners.

    Both of these measures have been used in the successful restart plan in the Bundesliga after the worldwide coronavirus pandemic disrupted football across Europe’s top leagues.

    One of the concerns about restarting after over three months without competitive action is the likely scenario of an increase in injuries as footballers prepare for matches without a proper pre-season.

    There is also the issue of fitting nine league matches, along with the final three rounds of the FA Cup, into a seven-week period. Chelsea are among the eight teams in the quarter-finals of the competition hoping to reach the final on 1 August.

    In the league, Chelsea are currently in fourth place and are on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with a host of teams including Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham among the chasing pack.

    Chelsea’s players have been back at their Cobham base for a fortnight and have stepped up to stage two training sessions under Frank Lampard and his core coaching staff.

    The guidelines on this stage were published and agreed with the UK government at the beginning of last week and allows teams to come in closer contact with each other – but social distancing rules apply at all other times outside of the session.

    Lampard has already been rocked by the absence of his star midfielder N’Golo Kante, who still has concerns over the safety measures despite his side’s match away at Aston Villa drawing near.

    There has been the small boost that Kante has agreed to train alone at Cobham as his teammates ready themselves with adapted sessions for the new season. Still, the midfielder is under no pressure from his club to return, with the Blues respecting his concerns.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi is back in training after falling ill and missing several sessions last week, while Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic and Tammy Abraham are all fit again after being injured before the prolonged stoppage in play.

    An increased number of substitutes could give more opportunities to academy players at various clubs in the final weeks of the season, too, and Lampard has the likes of Armando Broja, Tino Anjorin and Ian Maatsen training with the group from the youth squad.

    In the latest round of testing results, all 1,130 Premier League players and club staff came through as negative for Covid-19.

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