Watford boss Nigel Pearson insists there are still 'unanswered questions' over Project Restart

Watford manager Nigel Pearson feels Premier League players still require a number of assurances before Project Restart pushes ahead, but says he feels safe in the new working environment.

The Hornets boss, who returned to “phase one” of training with the majority of his squad this week, knows he and the Watford staff are at a greater risk having gone back to work, but has hailed the lengths staff have gone to in order to make the training ground safe.

Adrian Mariappa as well as two members of staff tested positive for the coronavirus during the first round of testing. Following the results, a number of players took the same decision as Troy Deeney and decided not to return before concerns over the safety of themselves and their family had been addressed.

“There’s still a few unanswered questions and that’s something that is a concern for some players and I respect their views,” said Pearson.

“I’ve stated what I have reservations about in our meetings and it is right for it to stay there.

Watford players are back in training although some have chosen to stay away. (AFP via Getty Images)

“As far as the players are concerned the BAME question is still something they don’t have enough assurances about.

“One of the other things, it’s not just about the players but their wider families.

“When the lockdown goes into a less stringent form we’re hoping there won’t be a second spike and more people can get back to some form of normality.

“I find it awkward to talk about football when we’re in such a difficult situation. It doesn’t seem right to be talking too much about football when we’ve got so many fatalities.”

In order to provide further security to players and staff, Watford are providing tests on top of the 50 delivered from the Premier League’s centralised scheme. The club have widened the amount of staff who can be tested, while also offering players the opportunity to provide their immediate family with tests.

Pearson had moved his elderly father into the family home near Sheffield during lockdown, but following his return to work the former Leicester boss says it is no longer safe for his father to stay with him now he’s returned to work.

“I’m back at work now and my circle of contact has gone from five or six to about 50,” said Pearson. “It’s no longer safe for my Dad to be living with us. So, he’s gone home. We’ll have to find a different solution to keep him safe.

“That’s an example of how it might affect people.

“The most important thing for me is the health and well-being of myself and my family. Am I at greater risk by coming back to work? Probably yes, a little bit. But do I feel safe at work? I think we’re taking every precaution we can and the players and staff have been fantastic this week. They’ve worked really hard and been fantastic at making it safe.

“We are committed to getting up and running but you can’t compromise people’s health and wellbeing.”

Given their precarious position in the table, Watford have taken some criticism for their initial stance of being against the use of neutral grounds, which at one point looked crucial to the resumption of the Premier League, as well as the outspoken approach from captain Deeney.

Pearson, however, feels it is only right to speak about the club’s position during the seemingly endless string of Premier League meetings, and that given not everyone has spoken out publicly, they are bound to draw criticism.

“I’m happy to when given the opportunity to say what I think,” he said. “What’s the point of having a meeting and not saying what you think? I’m not a political animal like some people are. And others can have their opinions.

“The well-being and health of players and staff comes first. We’ve got to be prepared for change. What others think they think. Some people probably haven’t said anything. There you go. If you stick your head above the parapet sometimes you’re going to get shot.”