Doubt remains over Aston Villa’s FA Cup clash with Liverpool

Aston Villa v AFC Bournemouth – Premier League – Villa Park
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Aston Villa’s clash with Liverpool is in doubt as the FA Cup third round has been hit by more coronavirus issues.

Villa, scheduled to host the Reds on Friday evening, announced on Thursday that they had shut their Bodymoor Heath training ground after “a large number” of players and staff members contracted the virus.

The Football Association subsequently said on Twitter that it was working closely with Villa to try to ensure the match could go ahead as planned, and that final confirmation would be made on Friday pending the results of additional Covid-19 testing.

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The PA news agency understands that should the game go ahead on Friday, Villa, with the virus having swept through the senior squad, will field a youth team.

It is understood no first-team players will take part and boss Dean Smith and assistants John Terry, Craig Shakespeare and Richard O’Kelly will also not be at the match, while Under-23s coach Mark Delaney oversees a side made up of Under-18 and Under-23 players.

The youth squads and staff have been tested but they will need to be negative when the results come back on Friday to feature.

The youngsters train in a different area to the first team at Bodymoor Heath so have not come into contact with them, but if there is a further raft of positive tests the game will almost certainly be called off.

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Elsewhere, Southampton’s tie against Shrewsbury was called off on Thursday due to an outbreak at the Sky Bet League One club.

The match was due to take place on Saturday, but a number of Shrewsbury players and staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.

The FA’s Professional Game Board will meet early next week to decide what will happen to the fixture.

Middlesbrough have seen their preparations for their game at Brentford on Saturday disrupted by a series of positive tests.

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Boro effectively shut down their Rockliffe Park training headquarters on Monday after positive cases among first-team staff and players had been confirmed.

A further round of testing, which also included Under-23s players, took place on Thursday morning with the results expected before the weekend.

Derby chief executive Stephen Pearce confirmed on Wednesday the club will send a group of under-23 and under-18 players to play at Chorley on Saturday following a coronavirus outbreak which closed their training ground.

Wayne Rooney and Derby’s entire first-team squad will miss the third-round tie in Lancashire, with Pearce revealing nine players and staff within that bubble have tested positive for Covid-19.

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