Aston Villa first team and coach Smith to miss FA Cup tie against Liverpool

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A Covid-19 outbreak means that the Premier League team will have to use its players under 23 and from the academy for the game against the Reds.

Aston Villa will be without its first team and coach Dean Smith for the FA Cup third round tie against Liverpool on Friday after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Midlands club.

The home team will use their Under 23 team and other academy players for the clash with the Premier League champions, depending on how many test negative for the virus.

In place of Smith, U23 boss Mark Delaney will take over the team.

Villa was forced to close her Bodymoor Heath training ground on Thursday after reporting a “significant coronavirus outbreak.”

Several senior and personal players received positive tests on Monday and began to isolate themselves, and a new round of tests returned even more positive results on Thursday.

It meant Villa’s first-team squad had their training session canceled just over 24 hours before they faced Liverpool at Villa Park, in a replay of the game that ended 7-2 against the home side in the Premier League. before. this season.

There were initial fears that the match would have to be canceled and that Villa has been forced to resign, as the already full schedule means there is very little time to reschedule the game.

Instead, they will field a team of younger players just as the championship team Derby plans to do when they face Chorley out of the league on Saturday after an outbreak forced his entire senior team, including interim manager Wayne Rooney. , to isolate yourself.

Villa’s makeshift squad will be a reversal of what happened in the Carabao Cup quarter-final tie between the teams in December 2019, when Liverpool were forced to play a reserve team as the senior team played at the Club World Cup in Qatar on the same day.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his team had no positive cases to report before traveling to Villa Park on Friday, but the results of the latest tests are yet to come.

When asked if his side is clear, he told reporters: “Yes, we have 100 percent no cases at the moment. But yesterday’s tests we don’t have the results yet. But until then everything was fine.” “

The Reds are expected to name James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones to the team.

Villa is the latest of a growing number of Premier League clubs to experience an outbreak of positive cases in recent weeks, with four games postponed during December.

Newcastle’s game against Smith’s team earlier last month was postponed due to an outbreak at the Magpies’ training ground. Manchester City then had to postpone their match against Everton on December 28, just four hours before kick-off, after several cases were reported between players and staff.

Two of Fulham’s holiday games, against Tottenham and Burnley, were also canceled after an outbreak among the Cottagers team. Sheffield United also reported a number of positive cases, although their matches against Burnley and Crystal Palace went according to plan.

Perhaps it is a little surprise, therefore, that the Premier League reported on Tuesday that 40 positive cases, the season-high, had been recorded in the latest round of testing.

It comes as the UK faces an increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, driven in part by a new, more communicable variant of the disease.

The surge in cases prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a full national lockdown on Monday, although elite sports such as the Premier League were allowed to continue.

There had been talk of stopping the season for a few weeks to act as a “switch” and stop the increase in cases. However, the Premier League denied those reports and insisted it had faith in the strict hygiene protocols currently in place in training fields and stadiums.

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