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Inside Saints' first day back at Staplewood

SAINTS’ players returned to Staplewood Campus on Tuesday and were met with gruelling fitness tests normally reserved for pre-season.

Ralph Hasenhuttl, who is back in Southampton after spending lockdown in Germany,  oversaw his side’s homecoming after a two-month absence due to the coronavirus crisis.

Premier League clubs met on Monday and voted in favour of clubs starting phase one of ‘Project Restart’.

This means Saints’ players no longer have to work out at home, as they can now train with their teammates in small groups of five.

However, they must adhere to strict social distancing rules and, therefore, won’t come into contact with their fellow squad members.

Training was allowed to start from 2pm on Tuesday afternoon once all the players’ coronavirus test results were returned.

Saints have split their squad into four different groups, but it’s not a case of goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers sticking together.

To ensure they stay within the guidelines, the St Mary’s side divided Tuesday’s training into two sessions.

The first one saw two groups being put through their paces, in different areas of Staplewood, and for a maximum of 75 minutes, before leaving.

Once this session was completed, the second lot of players would arrive and go through the same process.

To ensure the rules are being adhered to, the Premier League have asked for clubs to use GPS technology and said their training bases can be inspected without prior notice.

Speaking about these measures, Premier League chief executive Richard Garlick said: “We can request information from videoing of the sessions and GPS data, too.

“We are also looking at bringing in our own independent audit inspection team that we’ll scale up over the next few days which will give us the ability to have inspections at training grounds to start with on a no-notice basis.”

Saints’ squad have been instructed to arrive in their training kit, park their car three spaces apart and they also won’t be allowed to shower until they return home.

Eating in the first-team canteen is also off-limits.

Premier League clubs will meet again next week to vote on implementing phase two of training.

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