New blow to Project Restart as Premier League clubs delay training by a week amid growing concerns over player welfare

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Some Premier League clubs have delayed their highly-anticipated return to training by a week. GETTY IMAGES

By DailyMailSport for Lolwe digital

Premier League clubs have delayed their highly-anticipated return to training by a week as Project Restart hit another roadblock on Tuesday.

Provided the Government relaxes lockdown rules on Sunday, some clubs were due to return to their training grounds next Monday to commence small group training.

However, Sportsmail can reveal a number of teams have delayed their returns until May 18 at the earliest amid growing concerns over player welfare.

Provisional plans would see the Premier League recommence on June 12. There is still hope among clubs that they can meet that date, but putting back their return to training could yet have an impact.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to reveal the next phase of the UK’s lockdown guidelines on Thursday, with the Premier League due to hold talks on Friday aimed at kick-starting Project Restart. 

But Johnson has pushed his briefing back to Sunday, forcing top-flight chiefs to delay Friday’s meeting until the start of next week — another factor in clubs’ decision to delay their return to training.

As many as six Premier League clubs — thought to be Brighton, Watford, West Ham, Norwich, Bournemouth and Aston Villa — are understood to have objected to plans to play the remaining 92 games at neutral venues.

Premier League chiefs are lobbying the rebels and Sportsmail understands there is growing optimism that the Premier League will get the 14 votes necessary to press ahead.

Officials for the top flight, however, want all 20 clubs on board; three remain staunchly against plans to play the rest of the season at neutral venues but there is a feeling the rest can be persuaded.

News on Tuesday night emerged that club doctors have written to the Premier League amid major concerns over employee welfare.