Aston Villa will be forced to field their youth team players if their FA Cup match against Liverpool FC pushes through on Friday. The third round match is in doubt after Aston Villa was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak that has left the squad severely crippled.
With just hours before kickoff which is scheduled to be at 19:45 GMT, it remains to be seen if the clash will be given the green light.
Villa's first team squad along with manager Dean Smith and his coaching staff have all been ruled out of the fixture after the club's Bodymoor Heath training headquarters was forced to close on Thursday due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the BBC, Aston Villa is keen on hosting the match despite the health crisis. They are believed to be discussing the options with the Football Association. Testing has reportedly been conducted on the young players who will be slated to take the field in the absence of the regular first team players.
Under-23 coach Mark Delaney and his own coaching staff will be taking the reins from Dean Smith, who has been forced to isolate along with his team. A doctor, physiotherapist and kit staff are also expected to be present.
Thursday's shutdown was the result of an undisclosed number of positive coronavirus test results on Monday. Further testing resulted in even more positive cases on Thursday even after those who initially tested positive were sent into isolation immediately.
The large number of cases means that those who were infected will not only miss tonight's FA Cup fixture if it pushes through, but they won't be able to complete their mandatory quarantine by the time they face Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The match between Aston Villa and Liverpool is one of the most anticipated in the FA Cup third round. Much is at stake for the reigning EPL champions, who want to redeem themselves after being thrashed 7-2 by Villa earlier this season.