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Cup clash with Liverpool in doubt as Villa close training ground due to Covid-19 outbreak

Meanwhile, Southampton’s FA Cup third-round game with Shrewsbury will not go ahead as planned.

The Birmingham club and the Premier League champions might not get the chance to square off tomorrow for the first time since Villa's 7-2 victory earlier this season.
The Birmingham club and the Premier League champions might not get the chance to square off tomorrow for the first time since Villa's 7-2 victory earlier this season.
Image: PA

Updated Jan 7th 2021, 3:51 PM

ASTON VILLA WERE forced to close their training ground on Thursday after two rounds of testing returned multiple positive cases of coronavirus among players and staff, putting their Friday-night FA Cup third-round clash with Liverpool in doubt.

A statement from the Premier League club said that “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,” the statement continued.

“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.”

Villa are the fourth Premier League club to suffer a Covid-19 outbreak in the last two months as concerns over the feasibility of completing the season within the currently scheduled timeframe continue to mount.

Three Premier League matches were postponed last week due to outbreaks at Manchester City and Fulham while, between 28 December and 3 January, a record 40 positive cases were recorded among Premier League players and staff — announced on Tuesday

Meanwhile, Southampton’s FA Cup third-round tie against Shrewsbury will not go ahead as planned this weekend due to an outbreak at the Sky Bet League One club.

The match was due to take place on Saturday before a number of Shrewsbury players and staff members tested positive for the virus.

The FA’s Professional Game Board will meet early next week to decide what will happen with the fixture.

A statement on Southampton’s website read: “Southampton’s FA Cup third-round game at home to Shrewsbury Town will not take place as scheduled this Saturday.

“The club received notice of the decision from the Football Association this morning, after a number of Shrewsbury players and staff members tested positive for Covid-19.”

southampton-v-liverpool-premier-league-st-marys-stadium Saints striker Danny Ings and Theo Walcott. Source: PA

Shrewsbury said they had “reluctantly” advised the FA that they would be unable to fulfil the fixture after medical advice said it would be unsafe for the game to take place.

The League One club have been unable to train since last week and have closed their Sundorne Castle training ground for 10 days.

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire’s director of public health, said in a statement on the club’s official website: “We have been made aware of positive cases of Covid-19 at Shrewsbury Town Football Club.

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“We are working closely with the club to help limit any further potential spread. All positive cases, as well as close contacts, are self-isolating for at least 10 days in line with national guidance.

“The club has acted responsibly and taken all the necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus, which in this case has required closing the training ground and isolating all close contacts.

“The club are also following all the Government’s elite sport protocols, which include regularly testing players and staff.”

Southampton had their own concerns last week after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy tested positive for coronavirus and had to miss his side’s win over Liverpool.

Shrewsbury’s statement added: “The health and safety of all staff members at Shrewsbury Town Football Club remains paramount and the club continually takes all necessary steps to protect all where possible.”

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough’s preparations for their FA Cup third round trip to Brentford have been disrupted by a series of positive tests.

The club, whose manager Neil Warnock contracted the virus last year, revealed that their Rockliffe Park training headquarters was effectively closed on Monday after cases among first-team staff and players had been confirmed, and a further round of testing, which also included under-23s players, took place on Thursday morning with the results expected before the weekend.

This comes after Derby chief executive Stephen Pearce confirmed on Wednesday that the club will send a group of under-23 and under-18 players to play in the FA Cup at Chorley on Saturday following a coronavirus outbreak which has closed their training ground.

Wayne Rooney and Derby’s entire first-team squad will miss the third-round tie in Lancashire, with Pearce revealing nine players and staff within that bubble have tested positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Manchester City confirmed their Women’s Super League game against West Ham this weekend has been postponed due to positive coronavirus tests at the club.

City were scheduled to play West Ham at home on Saturday, but after four players or staff members tested positive the game has been called off, the club said.

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