Aston Villa vs Liverpool FA Cup match goes ahead after Covid-19 outbreak

Aston Villa have confirmed their FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool will go ahead tonight despite a large number of their players and staff testing positive for coronavirus.

The Midlands club were forced to close their Bodymoor Heath training ground on Thursday owing to the outbreak, and there had been concerns they would have to forfeit their match against the Reds.

However, the match is now set to go ahead. A tweet on Villa's official account read: "Aston Villa can confirm that the £EmiratesFACup Third Round tie with Liverpool will be played at Villa Park this evening (7.45pm KO)."

Villa have not confirmed how they have managed to get around the issue, but it is understood no first-team players will take part.
Instead, under-23s coach Mark Delaney is expected to oversee a side made up of under-18 and under-23 players.

Villa released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming that "a large number" of first team players and staff had returned positive Covid-19 tests on Monday.

More positive results were then produced following a second round of testing, with the club deciding to close their Bodymoor Heath training ground and send the squad home.

The news of the outbreak at Villa also raises questions about how and whether their upcoming Premier League matches can go ahead.

They are due to face Tottenham on Wednesday, who are already facing a punishing fixture schedule due to European and other commitments plus their match against Fulham being postponed.

Villa are then up against Everton on Saturday, January 16.

Earlier on Thursday, Southampton's third round match against Shrewsbury was called off following positive tests amongst the Shrews players and staff, with the League One club said to not have enough fit, non-isolating first-team players to fulfill the fixture.

Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell said: "The results that came back on Tuesday were quite astronomical", although he didn't provide exact figures on the number of players and staff affected.

While Shrewsbury may be forced to forfeit the match due to the inability to field a team, other fixtures are set to go ahead with sides fielding teams made up of their under-23s and under-18s squads.

Derby's match at non-league Chorley will take place on Saturday lunchtime despite interim boss Wayne Rooney and his entire first-team squad staying away from the fixture following their own outbreak.

The Rams will field a team made up of under-23 and under-18s players, coached by the club's under-23s coach Pat Lyons and Gary Bowyer.

Derby's Championship rivals Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday are set to follow suit following their own outbreaks.

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