Watford captain Troy Deeney has opened up about the sickening abuse he has copped from some football fans angry about his stance on returning to training.
Deeney has been one of the league’s most high-profile stars to speak out against the resumption of training over fears for the health of his baby boy.
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The 31-year-old striker has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.
The forward's concerns over potentially passing on COVID-19 to his five-month-old son, who has had breathing difficulties, came even before teammate Adrian Mariappa and two other Hornets staff tested positive.
But the 31-year-old found himself and his family in the firing line during Mental Health Awareness week last week.
"I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: 'I hope your son gets corona'," Deeney told CNN Sport.
"That's the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: 'Ah, we've got him' and they keep doing it."
He added: "In a time where it's all about mental health and everyone says 'speak up, speak out, please speak', (Newcastle's) Danny Rose spoke out... and I spoke out and we just get absolutely hammered and battered for it.
"So people see that and go 'woah' and it's not just us that gets it, the missus gets direct messages and you'll be walking down the street and people will be like: 'Oh, I'm at work, you go back to work'."
Fans horrified by vile abuse of Deeney
News of the abuse Deeney has copped from online trolls and the sickening fact that it was targeted at his baby boy, have left supporters disgusted.
I imagine the only thing that @T_Deeney loves more than football is his family and the abuse he’s getting for putting his young son’s health first is unbelievable. As for those wishing harm on the young lad, shame on you!— Dava Dave (@sjfcfeed) May 28, 2020
People were wishing Deeney's son caught corona? What kind of world do we live in at the moment?— Calvin 'Emeka Onwuka (@CalvinEmeka) May 28, 2020
I don't get it.
Any idiot who sent Troy Deeney a message or comment wishing his son gets Coronavirus, trolling or not. They need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror.— Steve Donegan * (@siambuddha1) May 28, 2020
@T_Deeney ignore the haters, you are doing the correct thing for your family, keep your family safe especially your son, hope to see you back soon but only when your comfortable with returning, don’t feel pressure to resume footie before your ready. God bless— Lee Tomlinson (@LeeToml03621314) May 29, 2020
Been reading some of the abuse @T_Deeney has been getting from the trolls online.— Darren Holloway (@DarrenH60858482) May 28, 2020
How pathetic some people are, this man has chosen the health of his son over kicking a ball around.
His decision should be respected, hats off to ya mate.#Coronovirus #ProjectRestart pic.twitter.com/ov3dKoAx26
Troy Deeney reveals people have sent him messages saying they hope his son gets Coronavirus? WTF is wrong with people? I really wish Social Media networks like @Twitter, @facebookapp could enforce people to register & confirm their personal details to prevent such trolls etc.— Jez (@Jezonimo) May 28, 2020
Who the F**k has wished Corona on Troy Deeney’s son? If you’ve liked or written anything of the sort you’re a disgrace to yourself and football. #scummy— farleyninja (@farleyninja) May 28, 2020
Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week after Premier League clubs voted unanimously for a return to contact training.
It comes after confirmation that the Premier League will return to action on June 17, more than three months after the season was halted due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Representatives from all 20 clubs met on Thursday, 24 hours after teams agreed to the second phase of restarting the 201Yahoo 9/20 campaign with players working in larger groups.
Squads were only allowed to restart practice sessions in small groups last week but contact and tackling is now allowed between players.
Four individuals connected to three clubs tested positive for coronavirus in the league's third round of testing, with 1008 staff from Premier League clubs tested.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the date is not set in stone and fixtures would only be fulfilled if it was completely safe to do so.