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Tony Strudwick: 'GPS trackers key to the safe return of football'

:Headline: Tony Strudwick: 'GPS trackers key to the safe return of football':
Clubs have been able to track and trace who players have come in close contact with.

Football has been able to proceed safely after the coronavirus lockdown because of some state-of-the-art tracking vests, according to a head of sports science at a Championship club.

There were big doubts over whether this season could resume in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic but strict protocols, both at training and on matchdays, have meant that its return has been trouble-free.

Cases of the coronavirus have been in single figures in both the Premier League and Championship for the majority of the twice-weekly tests.

One of the reasons for that is technology used in training, with players using vests with GPS trackers on which allows clubs to record who has come in close contact with each other.

Head of sports science and medicine at Sheffield Wednesday Tony Strudwick says the technology, powered by Catapult Sports, has been pivotal to keeping the Owls squad safe, especially after a coach contracted the virus not long after the restart.

"It was really important that we had some kind of objective to see what players were doing and the proximity report just allows us to ensure players are not spending too much time within a two-metre distance of each other," Strudwick told the PA news agency.

"What we also get is the amount of time spent in close contact, so we can get a matrix between a number of players when they come in close proximity.

"Logistically it has been a big planning operation to make sure that our players are not spending too much time too close to each other.

"You can implement the track and trace policy, we have an objective manner of going back and looking.

"The technology allows us to go back and look at the member of staff and see where they were at any one time and see which players came into contact. The information will be really critical to make sure we minimise risks.

"It's been invaluable. In the event of a positive test it allows us to go back and track and trace where players have been."

The technology, which is also used in tennis, rugby, cricket and basketball, also records just how much time is spent in close proximity during the match and it is surprisingly low.

"When you are playing 11v11 the time spent in a real close proximity is less than five minutes," Strudwick said. "It is one of the safest things to do.

"For central defenders marking a striker they get relatively close. In wider areas we have found there is not a lot of contact, that can be less than two minutes. An 11v11 game is quite free flowing. Players are continuously on the move."

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Championship Table
CLeeds UnitedLeeds46289977354293
5Cardiff CityCardiff4619161168581073
6Swansea CitySwansea461816126253970
7Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest461816125850870
9Preston North EndPreston461812165954566
10Derby CountyDerby461713166264-264
11Blackburn RoversBlackburn461712176663363
12Bristol City461712176065-563
13Queens Park RangersQPR461610206776-958
15Stoke CityStoke46168226268-656
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461511205866-856
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield461312215270-1851
19Luton TownLuton46149235482-2851
20Birmingham CityBirmingham461214205475-2150
RCharlton AthleticCharlton461212225065-1548
RWigan AthleticWigan461514175756147
RHull City46129255787-3045
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Premier League Table
2Manchester CityMan City382639102356781
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd391512124239357
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921
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