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Chelsea ask overseas players to return in case Premier League restarts - sources

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Chelsea have asked their first-team players who are overseas to return to England by Sunday and be on standby should the Premier League step up plans to return, sources have told ESPN.

Several squad members including Willian, Emerson Palmieri and Marcos Alonso were allowed to travel abroad once the coronavirus outbreak suspended competitive action last month, with head coach Frank Lampard judging each situation on a case-by-case basis.

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Those given permission to leave the United Kingdom have now been recalled with a target date of May 3, although the club are flexible to an extent regarding this deadline, recognising the difficulty of international travel, particularly for Willian who is a long-haul flight away in Brazil.

The club will then either ask players to quarantine themselves for 14 days in line with British government guidelines if required or seek further advice, taking their lead from the latest protocols which continue to be monitored.

As with all Premier League sides, the Chelsea squad have been following individual programmes since action was suspended on March 13.

Several other clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have reopened their training grounds to allow players to continue that work while observing strict social distancing measures but Chelsea are yet to utilise their Cobham base in the same way.

That is partly due to a desire to wait for the outcome of Friday's Premier League meeting, at which representatives of all 20 clubs will discuss via video conference call a possible resumption date of June 8.

Dubbed "Project Restart", the Premier League is hopeful of phasing in group training from around May 11 to a three weeks of preparation before matches resume behind closed doors. The government is yet to approve this plan -- many details of which remain uncertain, including where games would be played -- and any restart will almost certainly depend on the future state of the country's lockdown.

British politicians have indicated there will be a review of those measures by May 7 at the latest.