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Aston Villa ‘planning to play U23s’ against Liverpool in FA Cup

Aston Villa are drawing up plans to field an under-23s team against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

The third-round tie was thrown into doubt this afternoon after an outbreak of COVID-19 inside the Villa squad saw them close down their Bodymoor Heath training ground and call off Dean Smith’s pre-match press conference.

Liverpool, though, are yet to be told if the game will be postponed and the ECHO understands they are expecting Friday night’s clash at Villa Park to go ahead.

Jurgen Klopp and his squad are preparing for the match as usual and have not planned to stay overnight in the Midlands, instead travelling on Friday afternoon.

And now, as Birmingham Live report: “The predicament Villa are in is the fact they could be forced to play their under-23s who have continued to train separately to the first-team group.

“This afternoon, it’s understood Smith and Villa have been drawing up a plan to field an under-23s team for tomorrow’s fixture with Liverpool, which is scheduled for live BT Sport coverage.”

A similar outbreak at Derby County means they are planning to use a number of Under-23 and U18 players for their visit to Chorley on Saturday.

Interim boss Wayne Rooney and his coaching staff will miss the game but the fixture will go ahead this weekend.

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An Aston Villa club statement today read: “We 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 (Thursday).

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“First team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled.”

Villa remain in talks with the Football Association over the next steps and the match could be pushed back following the news.

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