Aston Villa players will soon get a taste of local grass roots football, as the club have been given the green light to play friendly matches to warm-up for the restart of the Premier League season.
All games must be within a 90 minute drive and Villa players have been told they must travel to and from games in their own cars, while wearing their match kit.
While their cars maybe better than most grassroots players, at least grassroots players tend to get the use of a dressing room, which players will be forbidden to use for the friendly games leading up to the restart of the 2019/20 season. If a game is to be played at a stadium, the players will enter the player’s entrance then head straight to the pitch for the warm-up.
Premier League teams began contact training last week, so there had been a question over how quickly friendlies could be played.
Villa are likely to host a game or two at Bodymoor Heath, but the fact they are ending the season with six out of their 10 games at an empty Villa Park, suggests the club should ideally be looking to arrange a friendly game at their home stadium, if possible. To both road test the new Covid-19 era match day arrangements and to get the players used to playing in a ghost-like stadium.
New Coaching Roles
It’s been reported that PGMOL referees and assistants are yet to be tested for COVID-19 so, initially, it’ll be up to club coaching staff to referee matches.
With Villa coach Richard O’Kelly now 63-years-old, you wouldn’t expect him to run the line, so will John Terry step up to the task? Or goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, maybe? The plot thickens…
It’s expected that the top level referees should be in position to officiate in the final week before the Premier League provisionally starts on June 17th.
It’ll be interesting to see who Villa can drum up as opposition.
The traditional lower league local preseason opponents, like Telford, Walsall or Kidderminster, are all in their close season after their respective leagues were suspended.
With the EFL announcing this week that Championship clubs will return to full training this week, with their season slated to kick-off on the 20th June, there will no doubt be scope for local friendly game opponents there.