Football

Aston Villa-Liverpool FA Cup tie doubtful due to Covid-19

The Villans report fresh cases in first-team squad and close training ground

Aston Villa's FA Cup third-round match against Liverpool tomorrow morning (Singapore time) is in doubt, after Villa reported fresh Covid-19 cases in their first-team squad.

Villa said they had closed their training ground and cancelled yesterday's training session, as a number of players and staff went into isolation.

"A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today," Villa said in a statement.

"Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the club, the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League."

Earlier, the FA said Southampton's match at home to Shrewsbury Town will not take place as scheduled tomorrow after the third-tier team reported several Covid-19 cases in their squad.

Shrewsbury told the FA that due to the "significant number" of cases, they did not have enough fit players who were not in self-isolation to fulfil the fixture against the high-flying English Premier League side.

"Shrewsbury Town FC provided the FA with details of the medical advice it had received and its communications with local Public Health England and liaised with the FA's Covid Medical Officer for the FA Cup," the FA said in a statement.

"The FA also requested and considered further information regarding Shrewsbury Town's ability to fulfil the fixture."

The FA said there will be a meeting of its Professional Game Board next week to decide on the fate of the fixture.

Championship (second-tier) side Middlesbrough also said yesterday that preparations for their game at Brentford had been affected after some of their first-team players and staff tested positive.

On Wednesday, Derby County said their squad and interim manager Wayne Rooney will not play a part in tomorrow's match at sixth-tier Chorley as they were self-isolating after an outbreak of the virus at the club.

But the game is due to go ahead, with Derby set to pick a team predominantly from the club's Under-23 and Under-18 squads with youth coaches taking charge.

Covid-19 outbreaks have led to four EPL matches being postponed and more than 50 games in the lower divisions of the Football League being called off this season.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are unlikely to sign a central defender during this month's transfer window, with the pandemic also not making it a financially viable option, manager Juergen Klopp said yesterday.

Liverpool's three senior centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all injured and Klopp was forced to play midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in defence in Tuesday morning's 1-0 loss at Southampton.

However, he said a stop-gap purchase would not help and he would look within the squad for options. - REUTERS.

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