Aston Villa have confirmed that their FA Cup third-round clash with Liverpool will go ahead even though many of their players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus.
Villa were forced to close their training ground on Thursday and there were concerns they would have to forfeit their match against Jurgen Klopp’s team.
“Aston Villa can confirm that the Emirates FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool will be played at Villa Park this evening,” read a brief statement on the club’s website.
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It is understood that no first-team players will take part in the match, with reports saying 10 players in the first-team bubble had tested positive.
Instead, under-23s coach Mark Delaney is expected to oversee a side made up of under-18 and under-23 players.
The outbreak at Villa also raises questions about how and whether their upcoming Premier League matches can go ahead.
They are due to face Tottenham on Wednesday and are then up against Everton on January 16.
There are growing concerns over whether the Premier League season can be completed on schedule as infection numbers spike in Britain.
A record high 40 positive tests were detected among Premier League players and staff in the week between December 28 and January 3.
Newcastle’s match against Aston Villa last month was the first top-flight fixture this season postponed by a coronavirus outbreak at a club.
Steve Bruce’s side lost captain Jamaal Lascelles and winger Allan Saint-Maximin for a long spell as they suffered the after-effects of the virus.
Lascelles is fit for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with holders Arsenal but Saint-Maximin is still waiting for the all-clear to return to training.
Magpies manager Steve Bruce questioned the morality of playing on as the pandemic worsens.
“The speed which it hit our club within a week, and ripped through, is something which all clubs will be looking at now,” he said.
“It’s difficult to contain and it leaves people sick. Financially it’s right to play on but morally, for me, it’s probably wrong.”
Southampton’s FA Cup match against Shrewsbury is off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the League One club.
Wayne Rooney’s Championship side Derby will fulfil their fixture at non-league Chorley with a youth team after nine positive tests among first-team players and staff.