Aston Villa’s FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool will go ahead on Friday despite a “significant” Covid-19 outbreak at the host club.
The Midlands club will field a team mainly comprising players from their Under-23 side so the outbreak can be contained within Villa’s first team.
Manager Dean Smith will not attend and Under-23 coach Mark Delaney will take charge of the 19:45 GMT kick-off.
In all, 14 Villa staff – including nine players – have tested positive.
The club closed their training base on Thursday because of the outbreak.
Those affected went into isolation and a second round of tests was carried out immediately, which produced more positive results on Thursday.
Premier League players returned 40 positive tests this week – more than double the previous weekly high.
Villa’s fixture with Liverpool is not the only third-round tie affected.
Southampton’s game against Shrewsbury on Sunday is off after a significant number of Shrews players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.
And Derby’s first-team squad will miss their FA Cup tie at Chorley on Saturday because of an outbreak, meaning players from their U23 and U18 sides will play.
- Aston Villa have lost six of their last seven FA Cup games against Liverpool, though they did win the last such meeting between the sides in the 2015 semi-final at Wembley (2-1).
- On each of the last three occasions Liverpool have eliminated Aston Villa from the FA Cup they’ve gone on to reach the final (1987-88, 1991-92 and 1995-96).
- Since beating Liverpool in the 2014-15 semi-final, Aston Villa have lost their last three FA Cup games against Premier League sides by an aggregate score of 0-10.
- Liverpool have been eliminated from four of their last six FA Cup ties against fellow Premier League sides, with the two exceptions in that run both coming in third round matches against Everton (2-1 in 2017-18, 1-0 in 2019-20).