Southgate urges England fans to work together to beat virus

England manager Gareth Southgate

England boss Gareth Southgate has urged fans to work together to fight the coronavirus pandemic, with football currently in lockdown.

The Three Lions had been due to play Italy and Denmark in friendlies later this month before the suspension of sporting action brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to supporters on the official England Twitter account on Friday, Southgate called the virus the "most extreme test that we've faced collectively in decades".

"In the way you've all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many," he said.

"So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.

"That responsibility lies with us all."

Southgate said England were due to play next week but that "now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage".

"The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families," he said.

They won't receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch."

"When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring."

With Euro 2020 postponed by UEFA by a year, football chiefs on Thursday decided to indefinitely extend the 2019/20 football season, which will not resume until April 30 at the earliest.

Watford striker Troy Deeney believes Premier League clubs will adapt to the situation, having already had to be prepared for the disruption caused by the winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

"It's an ongoing conversation, it's going to get finished," Deeney told ITV.

"With the World Cup that's coming up in the middle of the season, we've made allowances for that so we can make allowances to get the season finished."

England manager Gareth Southgate