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Premier League clubs have voted unanimously to approve a return to contact training, in another significant step towards the resumption of matches “when safe to do so”.

Players had already resumed training last week in small groups while respecting social distancing measures, according to step one of the return to training protocols.

Several players, including Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, are not taking part in phase one of the return to training protocols because of concerns about coronavirus.

The significance of contact training is that it’s the single biggest step towards the resumption of matches.

Throughout the pandemic there have been concerns raised about the risks associated with training and what it takes for coronavirus to be transmitted on the pitch.

But there has been cautious optimism from the first two rounds of testing after more than 99.5 per cent of results came back negative. There have been eight positive results, including at least two players, out of nearly 1,750 tests, so coronavirus is not widespread in clubs at the moment, at least not among those players and staff that have been tested.

If there is no spike in positive tests, with fewer negative results over more tests, it will give the authorities, and clubs, the confidence that it will be safe to resume competitive games next month.

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