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Aston Villa to field Under-23 players against Liverpool after COVID outbreak

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Aston Villa is expected to move forward with their FA Cup third round clash against Premier League leaders Liverpool on Friday night – but without all of their first team and coaching staff.

A coronavirus outbreak at the club has forced manager Dean Smith and the senior Villa team into forced isolation. But the game is still likely to play out, with a Villa squad of Under-23 and academy players available to challenge the tie instead.

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Dean Smith and the Villa team were forced into solitary confinement | LINDSEY PARNABY / Getty Images

Southampton vs Shrewsbury have been postponed due to an outbreak of positive cases in the latter, but Villa confirmed their intention on Thursday night to make sure the Liverpool game goes ahead.

With the 2020/21 campaign already needing to catch up to make up for the delayed start due to last season’s summer schedule, Villa has five Premier League games scheduled by the end of January and the possibility of play reorganized matches. is extremely small.

The Daily Mail notes that a potential Villa side to face Liverpool have all been tested and results will be accelerated to see if the tie can go as planned with these players.

This Villa side has been merged into the junior ranks and will be led by Under-23 coach Mark Delaney with first-team boss Smith unavailable.

Mark Delaney
Former Villa defender Mark Delaney to lead the squad | Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

These are the roles reversed, albeit in very different circumstances, from an EFL Cup match between the two clubs a little over 12 months ago.

On this occasion, Liverpool were unable to meet the tie due to their commitments in the FIFA Club World Cup and fielded a junior team against Villa while their senior players were in Qatar for international competition. Taking advantage of the circumstances, Villa won 5-0.

Villa aren’t the only club willing to use players under-23 and academy in the FA Cup third round, with County Derby taking similar action for their clash with Chorley outside the league.

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