This is how long Sunderland and their League One rivals will need before they are ready to play again

Coventry City boss Mark Robins believes that League One sides will require a mini pre-season of a month before they are able to return to action.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 7:30 am

The EFL Board are set to meet today [Wednesday] to map out their next steps with fixtures currently suspended indefinitely.

Currently, the league have advised all clubs not to return to training until May 16 at the earliest – while it has also been suggested a three-week period will be given to clubs in order to prepare before their first fixture.

But Robins, whose side sit atop League One, feels this won’t be sufficient.

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Coventry City boss Mark Robins

“We need a month,” said Robins, speaking to Coventry City’s official website.

“It’s been over 5 weeks now since we last did anything together – the longer that goes on, the more time we need. If you look at pre-season generally, if you get a full pre-season it’s seven weeks, eight weeks so you’re getting into that territory now.

“Ultimately we have got to be ready to go when we get things lifted. Everybody is guessing on a lot of things at the moment because there is not enough information for anybody to be able to plan, but the plan just moves down the line.

“We’re ready to go as soon as these lockdowns are lifted. The EFL are in contact once a week, the rest of it is speculation. The things you look at one Sky or BBC or whatever, some of it is factual but a lot of it is speculation because no one knows.”

Coventry are one of a number of sides – including Sunderland – who have furloughed their playing staff during this uncertain period.

The Black Cats’ entire first-team squad, and all contracted academy players, have been furloughed with the club ensuring everyone is paid in full.

The government guidelines state that employers cannot ask their furloughed employees to take part on work while they are on leave, but what this means in a footballing context is unclear.

Robins, however, has explained exactly what it means for the Sky Blues and the impact it has had on their training plans.

“It’s really difficult because everything has stopped,” he added.

“The players have been furloughed, so we can’t do anything. It’s something that you think about all of the time – how the players are doing, what they are up to.

“They’ve had programmes and plans previously before they went into furlough, so they’ll have been doing some work, and I know that’s the case because we can follow that and they’ve been working hard really.

“On the back of that we’ve put things on for them but you can’t make them do anything, so it’s a case of voluntary stuff and there’s still an uptake for that. That’s all you can do.

“Ultimately we’re trying to get on with various things and various planning, and hopefully we can get back sooner rather than later.”