Earlier today, Aston Villa announced that they were shutting down their training facilities due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club that had impacted a significant number of fist team players and support staff.
That news cast Friday’s FA Cup third round tie against Liverpool into some doubt, but the latest is that the match is set to go ahead—but with Villa running out a side comprised largely or entirely of U23 players.
Manager Dean Smith will also be absent, with the game being given to U23 coach Mark Delaney in something of a mirror image of last season’s League Cup tie—albeit under very different circumstances.
In that game, Liverpool’s U23 team faced Aston Villa 24 hours before the Reds were set to kick off their Club World Cup campaign in Qatar. This time around, it’s a surging global pandemic forcing the switch.
Elsewhere, Derby face a similar situation to Villa and will field a U23 side against Chorley due to a coronavirus outbreak, while Southampton vs. Shrewsbury has been called off due to an outbreak at Shrewsbury.
If tomorrow’s game can’t go ahead—and an as yet unreturned last round of tests for Villa’s potential U23 participants means there’s still uncertainty—it’s unclear if it would be rescheduled or lead to a forfeit.