Gary O’Neil sympathises with footballers in the lower regions of the EFL who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
The deadly disease, which has claimed more than 180,000 lives worldwide, forced football authorities to suspend matches in the UK last month.
O’Neil, who has spent the latter stages of his career in the Football League with Bristol City and Bolton, has revealed that certain players are coping differently without football.
The 36-year-old told White and Sawyer on talkSPORT: “I’ve spoken to a lot of friends that are still playing. They’re all dealing with it very, very differently.
“I’ve got one friend who’s dealing with it fine and he’s enjoying the extra time with his family. He is more financially secure and he has got a contract next season.
“But there’s a young lad who’s had to move away from his family and he’s living down in a city away from everybody in a flat on his own.
“All he’s got is his exercise bike and his PlayStation. He hasn’t seen anyone that he knows or loves for weeks, so he’s struggling.”
O’Neil has been without a club since suffering relegation from the Championship with Bolton last summer.
With a return date for English football still unknown, it has left players, whose contracts expire on June 30, wondering where they will go next.
O’Neil added: “You get the guys who are out of contract and aren’t going to get a deal with the club their at and he’s going to have to move.
Give COVID-19 the red card
The quicker we work together to stop coronavirus spreading, the sooner we can get back into the pubs, the gyms and stadiums and arenas to see live sport again…
STAY AT HOME. Only leave for the following purposes:
- to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
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- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary
For more info and tips, visit the NHS website.
The government has also issued further detail on what we can do during lockdown.
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.
“But he’s not sure when he’s going to move because he doesn’t know when the new season is going to start.
“These guys in the lower parts of the EFL, who earn wages that are more on a level that people are used to, are on one-year contracts and are going through a very, very uncertain time.
“I think it is important that we all realise that people are struggling and clubs and the PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association], especially, do their bit to make sure the players are okay.”