Chelsea have registered the club’s technical director Petr Cech in their Premier League squad as a precaution in case coronavirus restrictions hit coach Frank Lampard’s goalkeeper options.
Cech’s final game before retiring was against Chelsea for Arsenal in the Europa League final in May 2019 before returning to Stamford Bridge in an executive role.
Chelsea have been beset by goalkeeping problems, with the form of Kepa Arrizabalaga and 39-year-old Willy Caballero forcing the Blues into signing Edouard Mendy last month.
However, the English giants insisted Cech’s return to a playing role is purely precautionary.
“Petr Cech has been included in the squad as emergency goalkeeper cover,” Chelsea confirmed in a statement.
“This is a precautionary step due to the unprecedented conditions currently caused by the Covid-19 crisis. He takes up a position as a non-contract player.”
Last month Scottish side St Mirren were forced to sign a goalkeeper on an emergency loan after two of their ‘keepers tested positive for Covid-19 and a third was forced to self-isolate.
Cech has kept himself fit since retiring by playing for local ice hockey side Guildford Phoenix as a goaltender.
“It is definitely due to the pandemic because we could see players testing positive must be isolated. There was room in the squad and I was ready as an emergency option. In any case, we hope it won’t be necessary,” said Cech.
However, the former Czech international believes he still is capable of stepping up if needed.
“I believe I could do a game because I’m training and I’m keeping in shape.
“I trained with the team throughout this year when the bubbles were created and people couldn’t mingle. If it really came down to a game, I’d manage that.”
Mesut Ozil has been left out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad to cast even further doubt on whether he will play for the club again.
The 32-year-old is the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history on a reported £350,000 ($450,000) a week, but has also been omitted from the Gunners’ Europa League squad.
Ozil has not played a single minute for Mikel Arteta’s side since March 7.
Alongside Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos - also left out of both squads - Ozil will only be able to represent Arsenal Under-23s until 2021 at the earliest.
Ozil’s contract expires at the end of the season.
Earlier this month he stepped in to offer to pay the salary of Arsenal’s popular mascot Gunnersaurus after Jerry Quy, who has played the role of the dinosaur since 1993, was let go by the club with stadiums empty during the coronavirus crisis.