Enda Stevens describes a day in the life of a Sheffield United player behind the Covid-19 curtain
Enda Stevens has provided an insight into the measures Sheffield United have put in place to protect their players from coronavirus, after appearing to dismiss a suggestion by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero that the majority of Premier League footballers are “scared” by the prospect of returning to action before a vaccine is discovered.
Stevens, whose team mate and fellow Republic of Ireland international John Egan revealed last night that he is also ready to compete if the fixture suspension is lifted, confirmed Chris Wilder and his staff are taking every possible step to ensure the club complies with social distancing measures introduced to curb the spread of the disease which has so far claimed nearly 300,000 lives worldwide.
United made a partial return to training last month, with only a small number of people permitted to enter the Steelphalt Academy at any given time and numerous hygiene protocols being introduced.
Detailing working conditions at the site in Shirecliffe, Stevens said: “To be honest, it’s like walking through a maze.
“When we pull up in our cars, we’re told where to park and there’s a lot of space between all the vehicles. You can’t draw in right next to another one.
“Everyone stays at least 2 metres apart and we have to go in one door for the prehab session, where everything is spaced out again. Everything is laid out in specific areas and you get guidance all the way through.
“Then, we have to leave through another door that takes us out to the pitch where the same thing happens again. Everything, and I mean everything, is controlled.”
Egan, the United centre-half, described the rules his employers have introduced as even stricter than those devised by supermarkets and other shops which have remained open throughout the pandemic.
Echoing that sentiment, Stevens added: “It’s all very well organised. The system works really well, so there’s no complaints from us.
“We have all the communications and all the protocols so we just listen and respect the decisions that are made.
“It’s been great to be back in and to see the lads again, because you do miss all that. But here’s not much opportunity for banter because everything is managed so tightly.
“But we accept that’s how it probably will be for some time. We’ve got to get used to the ‘new normal’ because we want to be playing football.”
United were seventh in the table when the game entered lockdown in March, five points outside the Champions League places with 10 games of their league season remaining.
Although some have criticised plans to press ahead with the campaign - PL officials hope to kickstart it on June 12 - Stevens disagrees with Aguero’s assessment of the situation after canvassing opinion both at Bramall Lane and beyond.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to seems to be keen on coming back,” he said. “We’re footballers and we want to get back into a training routine.
“We have all the communications. So we just have to listen and respect the decisions the experts make.”