Crystal Palace players return to the grass pitches of Copers Cope Road after a 10-week absence today, but it will be a session like no other before it.
Indeed, there are three sessions during the afternoon, in what will be an extraordinary – but welcome – change to recent routines for the players.
Across the afternoon in three allotted time slots, 25 players will arrive in full training kit at Kent Cricket’s Beckenham site (adjacent to the club’s base).
The club has acquired the use of Kent Cricket’s facility next door as the car park is considerably larger – affording the players and staff a safe passage onto, and exit from, the club’s pitches – in a specially designed flow system, that would not have been possible at the Eagles’ usual training base.
Upon arrival in designated parking areas, players will have their temperature taken in their cars, fill in a questionnaire on an app, and only when clear will they leave their vehicles – which are parked more than two metres from the next.
The players’ ‘pre-activation’ routine prior to training will be undertaken outside, as will supplementary gym work. Outfield players will train in groups of four plus one goalkeeper, maintaining social distancing at all times.
These non-contact sessions in small groups is permitted in Phase 1 of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’, which allows players to build up pitch-conditioning and conduct basic ball work. Only in Phase 2 will larger group sessions and contact be permitted.
Only essential medical treatment will be administered to players after sessions, with no massages nor soft tissue treatment. Players will then depart the session to eat and shower at home, rather than on site.
Equipment will be cleaned after each use, in a comprehensive cleaning programme, in preparation for the next group.
Huge adaptations to the club’s procedures and protocols have been necessary to maximise player and staff safety. All players and the support staff will have a polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test bi-weekly conducted by external testers, arranged and managed by the Premier League.
The first series of tests, along with a cardiac screen, was undertaken last weekend in preparation for today’s return.
The club wishes to thank Kent Cricket for providing their facilities for the weeks ahead. We also would like to politely request that supporters do not attempt to visit the site.
Images of the players' return to the training pitch will be published on cpfc.co.uk later today, with footage on Palace TV later in the week.