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Dundalk seek training return to keep pace with European rivals


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Dundalk manager Vinny Perth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dundalk manager Vinny Perth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Dundalk manager Vinny Perth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dundalk will try to persuade the FAI to ease the restrictions on training and allow their players to get back to work so they are not left behind their European counterparts.

Since March the FAI have placed a ban on all football activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with players only allowed to train on their own at home, or in public parks, as club training grounds, stadiums and commercial gyms were all off limits.

The start of the next phase of the Covid-19 plan today could have allowed teams do some training, though in groups of no more than four. But an FAI statement issued on Friday night said clubs were strongly advised not to engage in training today, even in a four-strong group.

Collective

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Dr Alan Byrne, the FAI's medical director, asked clubs "not to consider collective training or playing football until the medical evidence suggests otherwise" though the FAI did propose that the four clubs due to play in UEFA competition this summer (Bohemians, Derry City, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers) would return to training on June 8 in a pilot programme which, if successful, could pave the way for the rest of the league and also allow those four to prepare for a proposed mini-tournament in July.

Dundalk had planned to return to train at Oriel Park today, with two groups of four players, as health and safety measures had been put in place at Oriel during the lockdown to create a safe environment. Bohemians had considered a return to training today for groups of four but decided to stick to players working solo ahead of June 8.

In weekend talks with senior FAI officials, Dundalk made the case for being allowed to train from today at Oriel, with groups of four.

With leagues such as Austria, Croatia, Poland and Estonia having set dates for a return to action, Dundalk fear that if those countries are up and running with matches before League of Ireland players can even train, the Irish clubs will be at a disadvantage in the Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds later on.

Irish Independent