Nigel Pearson has hit out at Boris Johnson over a “lack of leadership” in the prime minister’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, that has seen sport around the world postponed, cancelled or retreating behind closed doors.

The Watford manager referenced Johnson’s press conference on Thursday in saying: “I don’t think we had any great leadership last night, listening to the prime minister. I was totally underwhelmed by the lack of leadership and clear message.

“I heard one of the statements from the prime minister last night talking about listening, and that the decisions would be based on science and that there’s no necessarily a greater risk with people being together at sporting venues. If that’s based on science, fine, but that doesn’t necessarily make sense to me.

“I wouldn’t want our fans to be going into a situation where they are fearful of contracting something that could possibly affect either themselves or a member of their family.”

Before the Premier League was suspended until early April, Watford had cancelled training on Thursday and Pearson said one of his players is awaiting test results after exhibiting symptoms of the virus: “We’ve had players, as most clubs will have done, who have had symptoms of not being well. We’ve had players experiencing illness this week, who have stayed at home.

“We had somebody with a chest infection, somebody with an upset stomach and players who have shown flu-like symptoms. We’ve got one player awaiting tests results on his symptoms.”

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