Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is concerned that player welfare is not being taken seriously enough amid the Covid crisis.
The Premier League announced on Monday its intention to continue with the scheduled matches over the Christmas period, even though there were 90 confirmed coronavirus cases among players and staff recorded last week.
A shareholders’ meeting which involved representatives from all 20 clubs came to a collective decision to carry on with the campaign as planned, despite six of the 10 games last weekend being off due to Covid outbreaks.
“I don’t think people can appreciate how intense it is until you actually see it first hand,” Henderson told BBC Sport.
“Football to us is everything and we want to be able to perform at the highest level every time we set foot on the pitch. And unfortunately, in this period it is difficult to do that.
“That has been like this for a few years now and it has been difficult but then, on top of that, you chuck in Covid and it becomes even harder and even worse.
“I am concerned that nobody really takes player welfare seriously.
“I think decisions get made – of course we want to play as footballers, we want to get out there and play – but I am worried about player welfare and I don’t think anybody does take that seriously enough, especially in this period, when Covid is here.
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“We will try to have conversations in the background and try to have some sort of influence going forward, but at the minute I don’t feel the players get the respect they deserve in terms of having somebody being able to speak for them independently and having the power to say actually this isn’t right for player welfare.”
Liverpool are among the affected clubs and were without a number of key players for their 2-2 draw at Tottenham at the weekend, including Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago.
Including that game, the Reds have five games in two weeks with Covid cases and injuries to deal with.
Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders said on Tuesday: “For me the experts are not the managers, they are the scientists and the doctors and we should follow their guidelines.
“The Premier League should ask them, not the CEOs, not the managers, because health always comes position number one above everything.”