Aston Villa’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool tonight is expected to go ahead but their Premier League game against Tottenham is in doubt after an outbreak of coronavirus in the first-team squad
Villa are set to be without their entire first team along with boss Dean Smith and assistants John Terry, Craig Shakespeare and Richard O’Kelly as they are isolating.
It means the Premier League side will be relying on their U23s and U18s, who were all tested for the virus on Thursday, for the tie to go ahead. Results are being fast-tracked so the club can know by Friday lunchtime.
Sky Sports News have been told that Villa’s hierarchy are hopeful the youth players are clear of the virus.
Villa have always segregated a “red zone” within the Bodymoor Heath training ground since the return to play in summer, where only members of the first team bubble are allowed; it has remained cordoned off to the junior teams.
This is the reason for the optimism that those younger players haven’t been exposed to the outbreak, which has been described to Sky Sports News as “rampant” within the first-team squad.
It is thought the outbreak is much more extensive than it was with Fulham and Newcastle earlier this season.
As a result, Villa can’t use any players or staff from the first team bubble for tonight’s game – including physios, medical staff and the kit man.
Why can Villa play Liverpool but Spurs tie is in doubt?
There is a feeling among Premier League clubs that there would be an issue with the integrity of the competition if Villa were forced to field a side of youth-team players against Spurs on Wednesday.
However, the time constraints with FA Cup scheduling means there is very little flexibility to reschedule games, especially with the fixture list already congested as it is.
Any postponed match would have to take placed before the fourth round in just two weeks’ time.