• Stones wants guarantees for football’s return from coronavirus

    Manchester City defender John Stones

    Manchester City defender John Stones is eager for the season to resume, but only when it is “safe for everyone”.

    The Premier League campaign could reportedly restart in June but behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Stones, 25, said he was keen for the season to get back underway, but he also wants guarantees that people will be safe.

    “We all want football back, me more than anyone, but I want it to be at the right time and I want it to be safe for everyone,” he told CityTV.

    “For me as a player, you want to be playing in stadiums full of fans and the fans want to come to the game. If they can’t get to it, they’ll watch it on TV, but that’s the love and passion everyone knows and loves.”

    City were second in the Premier League – 25 points behind leaders Liverpool – and still alive in the Champions League and FA Cup when the season was suspended.

    Stones said players needed to be prepared and he is targeting trophies – when it is safe to do so.

    “For us as players, we want to be back out there fighting for titles and winning trophies for everyone to try and watch, be there at the games” he said.

    “As soon as that’s safe to happen in my opinion we need to be ready.”

    UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed the government has already held talks with sporting bodies with regards to allowing athletes and players to resume training, and while he suggested discussions are going well, he stressed safety is the priority.

    “I think it would lift the spirit of the nation,” Raab said in the government’s daily briefing on Tuesday. “I think people would like to see us get back not just to work and get to a stage where children can safely return to school but also enjoy pastimes, sporting in particular.

    “The government has had constructive meetings with sports bodies over plans for athletes to resume training when it’s safe to do so.

    “The culture secretary has also been working on a plan to get sports played behind closed doors when we move to the second phase.

    “We can only do it when the medical and scientific advice is that it can be done safely and sustainably, but that is certainly something under active consideration.”

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