Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has said some members from his family have died from the coronavirus and that he is “reserved” about plans to restart the Premier League.
The possibility of a restart next month was given a boost when the UK government said elite sport could return after June 1.
Sources have told ESPN a number of players do not want to play football during the crisis and Sterling said he is also concerned about returning to action.
“I knew it was serious when football got cancelled. I’m not saying football is the most important thing in the world but when a football event or the Premier League gets cancelled then you realise this is massive, this is something I’ve never seen,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel.
“From the moment we got told we were off I knew this was very serious. I’ve had friends whose grandma’s passed away; I’ve had family members as well that have passed away. You’ve got to be wise and take care of yourself and those around you.
“The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us footballers but the whole medical staff, referees.
“I don’t know how that’s going to work, but I feel like once that side of the people’s safety and the player’s safety is secured and their well-being is looked after then that’s the right time to go back in.
“Until then, I’m…how can I say…not scared but reserved and thinking what the worst outcome could be. At the same time I’m looking forward to it and I really want to get back but hopefully it will all be well when we do get back.”
Sterling’s City teammate Sergio Aguero has also addressed concerns about returning to action amid the global outbreak.
Newcastle United defender Danny Rose also labelled the decision to restart the campaign as a “joke” and criticised the UK government.
The UK has recorded more than 223,000 cases and over 32,000 deaths from the coronavirus ‒ the highest number in Europe.