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Napoli ignore coronavirus warning to set training date

01:39 GMT 21/03/2020
Gennaro Gattuso - Napoli Inter
Despite advice suggesting it is unsafe, the Naples club is set to allow its players back to work

Napoli will return to training next week despite being warned it would be dangerous with Italy in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There has been no sport in Italy since March 9 as a result of the spread of COVID-19, with the Serie A initially going behind closed doors before the shut down occurred.

The virus has killed 4,032 in the country, more than any other nation, with the north regions of Bergamo and Lombardy particularly hard hit. 

Damiano Tommasi, president of the Italian Players' Union (AIC), stated it would be dangerous for players to return to work with a lockdown still imposed across the nation.

Yet Serie A side Cagliari will train with players split into groups on Monday and Napoli will be back on the training field two days later. 

"SSC Napoli announces that the team will resume training at the Technical Center on Wednesday 25 March with a morning session." the club stated on Friday.

Lazio are also reportedly preparing to train next week.

Several Serie A players have tested positive for coronavirus, including Juventus duo Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi.

Five Sampdoria players, including former Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini, have contracted the disease, while three Fiorentina footballers have also tested positive.

Despite the effect of the pandemic on Italy, the country's Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora is targeting May 3 as a return date for Serie A.

Interviewed by TG1, however, Spadafora provided some cause for optimism with the news that authorities are working towards getting top-level sport played in around six weeks, albeit with the caviet that some games may need to be played without supporters.

"Serie A can resume on May 3, that's what we hope for," Spadafora told TG1. "Then we will evaluate whether it can be with the doors to the stadiums opened or closed.

"To this will be added the Champions League and the Europa League, which will be built into the new schedule."

UEFA has affirmed a commitment that all domestic seasons will be completed by June 30, when the contracts of many players will expire, though European football’s governing body has pushed back Euro 2020 by a year in a bid to accommodate this.