Tom Cleverley reckons the Premier League’s integrity will be called into question if clubs such as Watford lose big players like Troy Deeney for the run-in over coronavirus concerns.
Former Liverpool and England star Jamie Redknapp claimed last week that the withdrawal from training of more players like Deeney and Chelsea ’s N’Golo Kante will lead to ‘unfair competition’.
And Watford midfielder Cleverley said: “I saw what Jamie was talking about and it makes sense.
“If you are missing five or six of your players through personal circumstances, it’s going to hit us hard and it does affect the integrity of the competition.
“You can’t really just say, ‘That’s bad luck, get on with it,’ when so much is at stake.
“But the players have just got to take it day by day.
“Hopefully, if the league does continue, we’ll have all our best players and a full-strength squad to pick from.
“If it’s not the case, then we will have to deal with it — it’s got to be a no-excuses mentality from now until the end of the season.”
Deeney refused to return to phase-one training last week over fears of catching the virus and passing it on to family members, including his five-month-old son who has had breathing difficulties.
But Cleverley will have no qualms about telling him he feels every bit as safe at training as he does in his every day life after reporting back to the Hornet’s Hertfordshire HQ.
He added: “I don’t know what stance Troy is taking, whether he has ruled out playing or if he’s one of those who comes under the ‘let me see how safe it is first, then I’ll return’.
“I don’t think we should create much anxiety that we are going to miss him for games just yet.
“He’s a fitness freak anyway and there’s absolutely no problem that he’s taken the decision to maybe watch from arm’s length for the minute.
“There have been a couple who have had doubts and players are slowly starting to filter back.
“You have to respect their decisions and if they wanted the opinions of other players about how it’s going to make them feel more comfortable, I would be positive about it.
“I would say I have come into contact with as many people as I would going to the supermarket or going for a morning jog around my estate.”
If, or when, the Premier League does return, it will do so with Watford fourth from bottom but ahead of 18th-placed Bournemouth on goal difference alone and in a real relegation battle.
But if Watford do go down then, whatever the circumstances, Cleverley insists there will be no complaints from himself or any of his team-mates.
He said: “If the worst comes to the worst, it’s because we’ve not been good enough as a squad.
“Even if you were missing two or three through anxieties, that’s why you have a 25-man squad and as a squad we would not have been good enough over 38 games.”
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