Villa kids to face Liverpool in FA Cup

·3-min read

Aston Villa will field a youth team in their FA Cup clash with Liverpool after coronavirus swept through the senior squad.

No first-team players will take part in the third-round game at Villa Park and boss Dean Smith will not manage the side on Friday, according to reports.

Assistants John Terry, Craig Shakespeare and Richard O'Kelly will also miss the match, with no individual in the senior bubble involved.

Under-23s coach Mark Delaney, who played for Villa between 1999 and 2007, will take the side which will be made up of Under-18 and Under-23 players.

Although in extremely different circumstances, the game has similarities to last season's Carabao Cup quarter-final between the teams in December 2019.

Liverpool put out a youth side after their senior squad travelled to Doha for the Club World Cup and Villa won 5-0.

Meantime, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is self-isolating after a close contact of his tested positive for COVID-19.

A report in the Spanish newspaper ABC said the Frenchman learned of the contact testing positive on Thursday and subsequently did not attend Real Madrid's training session ahead of Saturday's La Liga game at Osasuna.

The report added the 48-year-old had undergone a COVID-19 test and was awaiting the result.

Villa were forced to shut their training ground on Thursday after confirming a large number of players and staff had contracted the virus.

Their youth squads and staff have been tested but will need to be negative when the results come back to feature against Juergen Klopp's side.

The youngsters train in a different area to the first team at Bodymoor Heath so have not come into contact with them, but if there is a further raft of positive tests the game will almost certainly be called off.

"The @FA and @AVFCOfficial are working closely together to try to ensure that the club's #EmiratesFACup third round tie with @LFC can go ahead as planned at Villa Park tomorrow evening," the FA said in a statement on Twitter.

"Final confirmation will be made tomorrow pending the results of additional COVID-19 testing."

The Birmingham-based club are scheduled to host Tottenham in a Premier League game next Wednesday.

Derby County have also made the decision to take their youth team to Chorley for their Saturday tie after significant cases within their first-team bubble, but Shrewsbury's game at Southampton is off after an outbreak at the League One club.

Elite sports have continued in Britain even as the country faces a more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

A third national lockdown that started Tuesday requires everyone in England to stay at home for at least the next six weeks, with limited exceptions.

"I fear football might succumb in the next few weeks," England great and TV pundit Gary Lineker said on Twitter.

Two Women's Super League games scheduled for Saturday were also postponed.

Arsenal women, featuring Matildas striker Caitlin Foord, said a player had tested positive, resulting in self-isolation for several players and the postponement of the game against Aston Villa.

Manchester City's women's match against West Ham was called off after City reported "four positive COVID-19 cases and a number of other mitigating factors".