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Wu's training return cools concerns

China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-03 09:11
Espanyol's Lei Wu in action in Wolverhampton, Britain, Feb 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Wu Lei appears to be on the road to recovery from his coronavirus infection after the Chinese star revealed he is already back training in Spain.

The 28-year-old's health has been a major topic of concern for fans back home ever since the Chinese Football Association confirmed the Espanyol forward had tested positive for COVID-19 late last month.

Wu has endeavored to allay those fears, saying he had only mild symptoms and there was no need to worry. His latest update, however, is perhaps the most reassuring news yet.

"Despite no one knowing when La Liga will restart, our coaching team is still giving us training plans to keep us fit and competitive," said the Espanyol forward in his personal blog on Wednesday.

"Since today, I've started to do some basic training... There are a lot of things that can't wait. The only way to grow without regrets is to keep moving forward."

Wu continues to insist he's feeling better day by day and the infection won't harm his long-term career-a view endorsed by several Chinese medical experts.

"If Wu Lei only shows mild symptoms until he's fully recovered, the infection will not cause significant harm to his body and his professional career will not be affected," said Jiang Weiping, an expert on respiratory diseases at Huadong Hospital in Shanghai.

Wu's upbeat outlook and determination to return to action as quickly as possible should come as no surprise to those familiar with the irrepressible striker, who became the first Chinese to sign permanently for a Spanish topflight team in 2019.

Since then, Wu has grabbed his chance to shine in one of the world's best leagues with both hands, proving he belongs at the highest level of the game and providing a welcome boost for Chinese soccer amid the ongoing woes of the national team in World Cup qualifying.

It has not all been plain-sailing for Wu, though. After a superb debut campaign, goals have been harder to come by this term, with Espanyol currently bottom of La Liga and facing the prospect of relegation to the second tier.

It remains unclear how a possible cancellation of the season due to the pandemic might affect the team's precarious situation.

Wu was among six members of Espanyol's squad, including back-room staff, to be diagnosed with the virus. The former Shanghai SIPG striker says the crisis has brought the squad closer together.

"Our team had an online conference call this week, so that every one of us could share our latest experiences and feelings at this time," Wu revealed in his blog.

"I told them my recovery situation and my teammates who are infected are also in good condition despite some still having mild symptoms. We are all keeping positive and believe we will be fully recovered in a short time.

"In the video chat, many people looked so different than half a month ago, and that was funny. The barbershops here are all closed during the pandemic, so some players have grown beards while some have weird haircuts. Some even have shaved heads now.

"There was truly a great atmosphere in the video chat. It's like we had all returned to the locker room. This big family is always warm and full of love."

Wu is now with his wife, Zhong Jiabei, during his quarantine at home, while their two kids are reportedly temporarily staying with his parents in Barcelona. Like many people around the world these days, Espanyol players have found killing time problematic.

"My teammates that don't have children just keep training, reading or painting. But more just play video games," said Wu.

"Those with children, who thought they could just relax sitting at home watching movies, have found that they can actually be busier than under normal circumstances. They have to cook for their children, clean the house, play and have online courses with the kids.

"Parents often don't have enough time. All of us hope the pandemic can end as soon as possible and that life can return to its normal trajectory."

In an interview with China Central Television last week, Wu revealed that his wife first began to feel unwell a day after he displayed symptoms, before a positive test confirmed her diagnosis.

"I've been staying with my wife and it's been not easy for her," he said. "We've faced the problem together and luckily our symptoms have disappeared."

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