Aston Villa have closed their training ground after a 'significant' Covid-19 outbreak at the club, casting doubt over their FA Cup clash with Liverpool.
Villa are scheduled to play the Reds on Friday evening, but did not train on Thursday as a result of the outbreak. The club confirmed that they are in discussions with the FA and the Premier League, but have made no announcement regarding whether Friday's clash will take place.
"A large number of first team players and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation. A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today. First team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled.
"Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the Club, the Football Association and the Premier League."
Like the Premier League, this season's FA Cup rules dictate that if clubs have 14 players fit and available to play, they must fulfil their fixture. However, it does not specify whether these have to be 14 first team players, and therefore it is unclear whether a fully fit Under 23 or Under 18 side would be considered sufficient.
No club will automatically have to forfeit a tie if they are affected by coronavirus, and the FA will assess circumstances on a case by case basis.
Villa are at home for Friday's FA Cup clash with Liverpool, removing the added complication of travel that contributed to Newcastle's Premier League fixture at Villa Park being postponed at the start of December following an outbreak in the Newcastle camp.
In the top flight, Everton versus Manchester City Tottenham against Fulham were also postponed in December following a rise in Covid cases at City and Fulham.
An assortment of EFL and WSL fixtures have also been cancelled this season - including in two of Aston Villa's women's team matches after they suffered an outbreak in October.