Coronavirus: Ajax returns to training amid pandemic

The Eredivisie season ended last week due to the coronavirus pandemic with no champion declared, Ajax and AZ having sat level on points at the top.

Erik ten Hag of Ajax acknowledged it was strange to start seeing colleagues in person after a prolonged period in lockdown.   -  Getty Images

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag wants his players to "feel like professional footballers again" after the club returned to training on Wednesday.

The Eredivisie season ended last week due to the coronavirus pandemic with no champion declared, Ajax and AZ having sat level on points at the top with nine games to go.

Despite the season being over, Ajax has returned to training in small groups as it begins the process of getting ready for the 2020-21 campaign.

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Players worked in small position groups overseen by separate coaches.

"We thought about the ideal way to get back to training and we've combined players based on their positions," Ten Hag told Ajax Media.

"This is just how we are starting out. We've grouped these particular players, so we can work on some position-specific things. We hope to get their technical levels up again and stimulate them once again.

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"That's how we will do it from now on, and we will make sure that they keep busy at home too. 

"We need them to keep their focus and we need to make them feel like professional footballers again. It's important they keep that mindset."

Ten Hag acknowledged it was strange to start seeing colleagues in person after a prolonged period in lockdown.

"It's nice [to be back], we've been 'out of order' for such a long time, everybody sat at home in their own surroundings," he added.

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"Even though we have to take some measures, we can start training again. You see that everybody is very enthusiastic. 

"It's been such a strange situation, not just for us, but for the entire society. All of a sudden, you don't see each other anymore. 

"Luckily, we still kept in touch: there's a lot of technology that helped us, but to see each other in the flesh again, that's just really great.

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"We are hoping we can start playing football again in September. Of course, we're all living in uncertainty and nobody knows for sure if we can start playing again at that time. 

"The players have trained individually almost every day. Now the next step: training in small groups with the ball. You can see they are really happy to play with the ball again. It's been a while.

"This is just a small start but we have returned to the pitch, which makes us all very happy. It's just a start, however it's nice to have a bit of a look to the future."

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