Steven Gerrard says player welfare has to be considered

The Aston Villa boss wants to protect players during the winter.
Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey scored his second goal of the season at Norwich. (Joe Giddens/PA)

Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey scored his second goal of the season at Norwich. (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard insists player welfare must be the priority amid the winter Covid crisis.

The boss wants to ensure players are protected during the fresh Omicron wave and hectic fixture list – if their games remain on.

Villa host Burnley in one of the two Premier League games still going ahead on Saturday after four matches were postponed.

Leicester’s trip to Everton on Sunday is also off, with the Foxes in the middle of a Covid outbreak.

Top-flight managers will speak with the Premier League on Monday, with captains also holding talks with each other, and Gerrard is eager to highlight player safety.

He said: “Player welfare has to be taken into consideration here because this is not just a Covid situation, this is what comes on the back of it.

“We’re having to use more players for more games and more minutes because we’ve got some players missing with Covid. That puts more strain and stress on the players individually and you pick up more injuries on the back of that.

“We’re at the time of year where, naturally, there are more colds and bugs, and there’s that paranoia that while they maybe haven’t had a positive test yet, are they going to have a positive test in a few days? Do you then take them out of the environment to protect others?

“There’s all kinds of concerns and situations going on at the moment. I just hope the Premier League and the powers that be take player welfare into consideration.”

Keinan Davis, Marvelous Nakamba, Morgan Sanson, Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey are all out for Gerrard on Saturday with a variety of problems.

Jacob Ramsey is poised to start again after his impressive scoring performance in the 2-0 win at Norwich on Tuesday.

The midfielder has started five of Gerrard’s six games in charge and the former England midfielder believes Ramsey is already better than he was at the same age.

He said: “He’s already a force. I think he’s a fantastic talent. At such a young age, you can see he plays with maturity, he’s got a really good game understanding and I think he’s further ahead than I was at 20.

“If he keeps, wanting to grow, develop and evolve, I’ve got no doubt that he can add big numbers to his game in terms of goals and assists.

“It’s always nice to have homegrown players in your team because they have that connection to the supporters and know what the fans demand and want here at Villa.

“Without putting too much pressure on the kid – you can see him moving through the international age groups at speed – if he keeps consistency in his game, I think he can go all the way to the top.”

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