A lack of game time will make it “impossible” for players to quickly reach peak condition once the Premier League campaign stalled by the coronavirus pandemic resumes, Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Diogo Jota said.

Professional soccer in England was suspended indefinitely last month because of the flu-like virus that has killed more than 20 000 people in Britain (at the time of going to press) and players have been training in isolation during the lockdown.

A return is not imminent, with the best-case scenario being a restart in mid-June.

“The target is to stay at home as much as possible and try to stay fit because we know the competition can start and we need to be ready,” Jota was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“When it starts, it’ll be like a pre-season for the players because when you don’t play it’s impossible to be as fit as you were. Anything can happen because it’ll be like a new season.”

Games will almost certainly be held without fans once the season resumes and Jota said playing in empty stadiums was preferable to not playing at all.

“If it is a choice between not finishing the season and finishing behind closed doors, obviously we would choose to finish behind closed doors, but everyone wants the fans in the stadium,” Jota added.

“Maybe we need to go step by step and the first step is to play behind closed doors.”

Wolves were in sixth place with 43 points when the league was suspended, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

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