Aston Villa’s FA Cup clash with Liverpool set to air on Friday is placed in doubt after a huge outbreak of coronavirus at the club sent members of the first-team into self-isolation.
A large number of Aston Villa’s players and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus forcing their FA Cup clash with Liverpool to be placed in doubt. Manager Dean Smith’s pre-match press conference due to take place on Thursday was postponed as the club was in talks with the FA over whether the fixture could go ahead. Additionally, as per published reports, Aston Villa has not trained since Tuesday.
A club statement from Aston Villa read, “Aston Villa can confirm that the club has closed its Bodymoor Health training ground after a significant coronavirus outbreak. A large number of first-team and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation”.
“The second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today. First team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was canceled. Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the club, the Football Association, and the Premier League”.
Number of matches affected
The match is the third tie of the third round to be affected. Derby will face Chorley on Saturday with a mixture of Under 23 and Under 18 players as interim-manager, Wayne Rooney and a number of first-team players and staff are isolating after a Covid outbreak at the club.
And Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie between Southampton and Shrewsbury is off after a significant number of Shrews players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.
FA rules state that clubs will be expected to fulfil their fixtures if they can muster 14 players, though there is scope for individual clubs to appeal if they feel they cannot do so.
To request a postponement, clubs must gather information from their own medical teams as well as Public Health England and submit it to the FA. The professional game board then rules on the case.
There are 26 senior players listed on Villa’s official website, plus 23 Under 23s and 21 Under 18s, although some of these were unavailable even before the Covid outbreak.
Centre-forward Wesley, for example, is still recovering from a serious knee injury, and Mahmoud Trezeguet and Ross Barkley were also sidelined.
The FA could reject any appeal from Villa and effectively give Liverpool a bye to the fourth round although they will treat every situation on a case-by-case basis. The game was also scheduled for live television coverage on BT Sport.
Unlike Shrewsbury, Derby decided to go ahead with their available players and did not ask for the game to be called off.
Shrewsbury, on the other hand, do not have enough fit, non-isolating players to play the game at St Mary’s. The professional game board will decide what will happen with the fixture ‘early next week’.