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Aston Villa confirmed on Thursday that a “significant” number of players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus, putting the FA Cup third round tie against Liverpool in major doubt of going ahead on Friday night. Premier League games have already been suspended this season with clubs such as Newcastle, Manchester City and Fulham all returning positive tests among their squads.
But this week particularly has seen a growing number of clubs confirm positive tests among players and staff with Villa becoming the latest.
Villa’s statement read: “Aston Villa can confirm that the Club has closed its Bodymoor Heath training ground after a significant Coronavirus outbreak.
“A large number of first team players and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation.
“A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today.
JUST IN: Aston Villa close training ground after coronavirus outbreak
“First team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled.
“Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the Club, the Football Association and the Premier League.”
But unlike Premier League matches which have been postponed after news of an outbreak at a club, the FA is determined for cup ties to go ahead as planned this week.
They have told clubs taking part in the third round that the tie should go ahead as planned if there are at least 14 players available to them.
Postponing a number of cup ties could have a major impact on several clubs facing a fixture pile-up heading into the second half of the season.
And according to Birmingham Live, Villa boss Dean Smith is drawing up plans to field a team of under-23s to ensure the game against Liverpool goes ahead.
Derby County already confirmed that they would still go ahead with their FA Cup match against Chorley on Saturday after a number of players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.
Derby’s first-team squad is now in isolation with academy director Darren Wassall set to take charge of the FA Cup tie.
But Southampton have already had their FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town postponed with the League One club reporting several positive coronavirus tests.
If the tie between Villa and Liverpool were to be postponed, it would pose a serious issue on when to fit the match in for either team.
The only free week both teams have at the moment is between February 20 and 27, but the fourth round of the FA Cup is scheduled to take place later this month.
Villa are one of several teams with a backlog of games already with two matches in hand on some clubs in the Premier League.
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