Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers Explains City's Phased Return To Training

Ensuring Leicester City are agile to changing circumstances as they put measures in place to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic has been central to the Club's approach, says Brendan Rodgers.
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The Club's first team returned to training on Wednesday, working in groups of no more than five as part of a carefully planned programme overseen by coaching, medical and sports science staff.

Under Step One of the Premier League’s Return to Training Protocol, training remains non-contact and socially distanced, with players reporting in intervals, wearing training kit, ready to work immediately.

It was the first opportunity for Rodgers' players to train as a squad since the Premier League's suspension in mid-March and the Northern Irishman says planning has been ongoing for several weeks.

"We’re staggered over the five groups of five," the 47-year-old explained earlier this week. "It’s a bit like tee-off times really, so they’ve come in with all the protocols around how they work.

"I said to my staff that we have to get ready for a change in our rhythm of work. We’ve gone from a monthly calendar, knowing how we operate and work, to a weekly calendar, because it could change.

"You have to have that agility to be able to move within this situation that we’re in and be able to manage that and be flexible with it.

"The key at the moment is observing, listening and reading the protocols that have come out from the Premier League and everything else. You have to adapt.

"We put in an awful lot of work leading into our first day back. There’s been lots of Zoom calls, lots of talking, lots of organisation, and part of that was putting the players into the groups."

In terms of that organisation, that’s been really good and we’ve gone into a lot of detail to ensure the flow works well – because you can only have five players on one pitch at any one time.

Brendan Rodgers

That transparency in the planning stage, between all football departments at the Football Club, has enabled Leicester's playing squad to return to Belvoir Drive in an orderly fashion.

Rodgers also detailed more specific elements of the training schedule, outlining how a player's position on the field of play in fact played a role in determining which group of five they would be assigned to.

"One group would come in for 10:15am and they’d then start at 10:30am, because they can only be in for certain periods before they get going," the City manager continued.

"Then, the next group would come in, start a bit later, and then that would weave itself through, so that all five groups are working.

"In terms of that organisation, that’s been really good and we’ve gone into a lot of detail to ensure the flow works well – because you can only have five players on one pitch at any one time.

"We have approached it in terms of position. So, you’ll have your right-sided centre-half, right-back, right-sided central midfielder, your right winger and a striker all together.

"We don’t know how long we’re going to be working in small groups of five, but if you are working in that sector of the pitch, you can build a relationship with that.

First Team

City Restart Small Group Training At Belvoir Drive

Leicester City's stars train together for the first time since March after restarting small group training at Belvoir Drive.

"And then the left-sided players will work together as well, so that’s how we’ve tried to divide it up to make sure that the groups have a purpose to it.

"We then have our goalkeepers working individually with Mike Stowell, our First Team & Goalkeeper Coach, so that’s staggered throughout the day as well.

"In fairness to the players, they’ve been excellent. They’re mature, they understand. They’re so close. They’d like nothing more than to be in tight.

"But they respect what the rules are and, obviously, our drills are all set up to ensure the maximum safety for them and for the staff. 

"It was absolutely brilliant to come back because it’s one thing you miss as a manager – you miss that interaction with your staff, with your players.

"We’ve got an incredible spirit here within our squad. To get them all back, like they were on Wednesday, to see them all again, was really, really good.

"And just that feeling of talking football again; talking tactics, even in the small group work that they were doing, it was a really, really good feeling."

Over the past eight weeks, the Club's sports science and medical teams have adapted to new circumstances to remotely provide Leicester's players with dedicated fitness programmes to adhere to at home.

That considered and monitored approach allowed the players to maintain a base fitness level, preparing them for a return to training and eventually to compete in top-flight fixtures once more. 

"It’s been absolutely critical," Rodgers added. "The sports science team, along with the medical team, have really earned their money and been invaluable in this period.

We’ll work them as best as we can in every element of the game and then, when and if it starts again, we’ll be ready. We’ll be ready to go into this last push and hopefully end a very good season."

Brendan Rodgers

"My guys here, Glen Driscoll and Matt Reeves, have been absolutely brilliant, along with their staff, in making sure the players have had their programmes.

"They’ve had an app that they all connect with and we can all look and see the work that they’re doing. It’s kept the players at a really, really good level, coming back in.

"It’s not like they’ve been away over the course of an off-season where they’ve been on holiday for three or four weeks on a beach before coming back and starting from fresh.

"The players haven’t been able to do that. They’ve had to keep ticking over because they’ve not known when they will be back.

"The sports science and medical teams have been ensuring that physical work has been continuous and not too monotonous. Obviously, there’s only certain aspects that you can do.

"Some of the guys are lucky, they have bigger gardens, but others don’t. They’ve got to go outside and do other aspects of training. Those guys have been so important and they’ve done a fantastic job.

"In terms of operationally, I look at us as a club and, in terms of how we’ve dealt with it up until now - and what can happen later down the line - it’s been so positive.

"From the board, manager, coaching staff and playing staff, everything’s been very transparent. There’s been clarity around all the decisions that have been made and we come out of this a stronger club.

"Everyone has had to come together to be able to move and deal with this really difficult situation."

Consultation with players, managers, clubs, the PFA and LMA continues as protocols for full-contact training are developed, in preparation to resume Premier League football when it is safe to do so.

Due to the dedicated and professional nature of the work carried out by the Club's staff and players over recent months, Rodgers is confident that City will be ready to compete if permitted to do so.

"We would love to finish the job – so long as it’s safe," he said. "It will never be quite the same without the supporters.

"Without supporters there, of course it will be really, really tough because they are an absolutely critical part of what we do. That’s the same for every club.

"For all clubs, it will be difficult. However, the one thing we’re all missing is competition. Getting that competitive edge back to our game by being able to play, that’s what we look forward to.

"We’ll be ready as best we can. This is the type of situation where no team will really have an advantage over another because we’re all coming back at the same time, we’ve all been off for the same period.

"But I’ve got every confidence. We’ve got players that are first-class professionals. They’ve been away and done a lot of fantastic work.

"We’ll work them as best as we can in every element of the game and then, when and if it starts again, we’ll be ready. We’ll be ready to go into this last push and hopefully end a very good season."

For more information about the extensively modified procedures in place at Belvoir Drive, please click HERE.

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