Aston Villa face forfeiting Liverpool tie if more positive Covid cases come back

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Aston Villa could face Liverpool with no manager or a single star player like Jack Grealish.

Villa's FA Cup clash hangs on a knife-edge after a wave of positive COVID tests swept through the Midlands club.

If the third-round tie goes ahead, boss Dean Smith and all his first-team players won't be anywhere near the famous Villa Park Stadium.

Smith, his assistants, medical staff and big names like England international Grealish will all be self-isolating, leaving Villa to take on Jurgen Klopp's men with a bunch of kids.

Under-23s coach Mark Delaney will pick from what youngsters are available to him after test results come back some time on Friday morning.

Any further positive results and the tie looks certain to be called off, leaving Villa almost certainly having to forfeit their place in a competition they have won seven times.

The FA stress that they would make every effort possible to reschedule the game before the Fourth Round – but that would appear impossible given the fixture congestion.

Villa and the FA were locked in talks last night desperately trying to come up with a solution to play the game after a 'significant number of positive tests forced the shutdown of their training complex.

The decision came just hours after Shrewsbury's tie at Southampton bit the dust because the virus had swept through the League One side's squad and staff.

It's a worrying time for not just the FA Cup competition but football as a whole as the spread appears to be accelerating out of control.

Villa hadn't a clue of the crisis that was about to engulf them when they reported in for training on Monday morning.

Players and staff took their routine Covid tests unaware a timebomb was ticking and that their preparations for the Liverpool game were all about to unravel.

They trained together on Tuesday before the whole Bodymoor Heath training complex was rocked by an unusually high return of positive tests.

The club had been routinely testing like all other Premier League outfits for months and had only seen less than a handful of positive tests.

But this figure was disturbing and players and staff underwent re-testing before being sent home and told to isolate pending more feedback.

On Thursday morning, Smith's scheduled press conference via Zoom was switched from 9.45am to around 2.15pm as the club sprang into action to deal with the shock news that had come back from the second tests – even more positive results.

Villa closed down the training complex went into immediate discussions with the FA and the Premier League because next Wednesday's home league clash with Tottenham is now also in big doubt.

  • Aston Villa FC
  • Premier League
  • FA Cup
  • Liverpool FC
  • Coronavirus
  • Jurgen Klopp

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