Aston Villa and FA hopeful Liverpool FA Cup tie will go ahead after Covid outbreak among Villa squad

Aston Villa's first-team training session cancelled ahead of Friday's FA Cup clash vs Liverpool; "Large number" of Villa players and staff have tested positive for Covid-19; Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough close training grounds; Women's FA Cup ties could be decided by coin toss

A member of staff disinfects a corner flag before the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.
Image: Aston Villa are in talks with the FA and the Premier League following a coronavirus outbreak at the club and will undergo another round of testing on Friday

The FA and Aston Villa are 'working closely together' to ensure the FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool at Villa Park goes ahead, with a decision to be made on Friday pending the results of additional coronavirus testing.

Villa have been forced to close their Bodymoor Heath training ground after a "significant" coronavirus outbreak at the club. A "large number" of Villa's first-team players and staff have tested positive and first-team training has been cancelled ahead of the game.

The club confirmed the positive results were returned after testing on Monday and Thursday this week and revealed it is in talks with the Football Association and the Premier League with regards to future actions.

No club will automatically have to forfeit an FA Cup game if they are affected by coronavirus, with each case to be assessed by the FA on its individual circumstances, Sky Sports News understands.

The FA has told clubs taking part in the FA Cup third round they should field a team if they have at least 14 fit players, which can include youth team players, as they seek to avoid a fixture pile-up.

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Rob Dorsett explains the sequence of events that led to the closure of Aston Villa's training ground following a coronavirus outbreak among the playing squad and staff

In a statement on Thursday, Villa said: "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.

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"First-team training ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled.

Premier League balls next to disinfectant spray
Image: The Premier League recorded a season-high 40 positive results in the latest week of testing

"Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the club, the Football Association and the Premier League."

Villa's next Premier League game is at home to Tottenham on January 13, before another home match against Everton three days later.

Villa's positive cases come after the Premier League confirmed a season-high 40 positive coronavirus results were recorded following two rounds of testing between December 28 and January 3.

Fulham have had two games postponed due to covid - against Burnley and Tottenham - while the December 28 match between Everton and Manchester City was called off four hours before kick-off due to a number of positive cases in the City camp.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche confirmed at his media briefing on Thursday that the club has "a couple of cases" after their most recent screening.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has said players will be reminded not to hug their team-mates during goal celebrations following a spate of coronavirus cases across the leagues.

Speaking to The Times, Taylor said: "I do understand with the celebration of a goal it's very difficult to just put the ball in the back of the net and act as though nothing has happened.

"It's that adrenaline rush when a goal is scored and that's what the game is all about, but that is part and parcel of the process, so they will be reminded."

Positive coronavirus tests impacting on weekend fixture list

A rise in positive coronavirus tests across the board has had a huge impact on the footballing schedule, with several games being postponed this weekend and a number of training grounds closed after a spike in cases.

Southampton's FA Cup third-round tie with Shrewsbury will not take place on Saturday as scheduled after the League One club reported a significant number of positive Covid-19 cases.

On Wednesday, the club notified the Football Association several players and staff members had tested positive for coronavirus, in addition to two positive tests last week, one confirmed as midfielder Marc Pugh.

It's the second Shrewsbury match to be affected by coronavirus after the League One fixture with Crewe on January 2 was postponed.

Shrewsbury Town's home League One fixture against Crewe on January 2 was called off
Image: Southampton will not face Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup third round this weekend

All teams in the FA Cup are being tested 72 hours before their fixtures.

Derby County have confirmed they will send a group of U23 and U18 players to play in the FA Cup at Chorley on Saturday following a coronavirus outbreak which has closed their training ground.

Interim manager Wayne Rooney, his coaching staff, and the whole of Derby's first-team squad are set to miss the match because of the outbreak.

Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday have taken the precaution of closing their training grounds following a rise in positive cases.

Wednesday caretaker manager Neil Thompson and his temporary assistants Lee Bullen and Steven Haslam are among those affected and will be absent from the dugout when the Owls travel to Exeter in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Blackpool's preparations for their FA Cup game against West Brom have been hindered by two positive tests in their weekly testing.

Wigan's two League One fixture against Hull City has been postponed, with the club informing the EFL that it cannot fulfil the fixturs due to a number of positive cases at the club.

In League Two, Colchester United's match against Tranmere has also been called off due to cases in both squads.

Clubs in the English Football League are to introduce twice-weekly coronavirus testing from January 11.

Manchester City Women's game against West Ham United Women has also been postponed following four positive COVID-19 cases and a number of other mitigating factors affecting the City squad.

A number of positive tests at Arsenal have also led to the postponement of their WSL game at Aston Villa.

This weekend's Women's FA Cup ties could be decided by a coin toss after the lockdown meant the competition was suspended.

Meetings have since been held to discuss ways to progress with the tournament with a coin toss one of a number of options being considered for the second and third rounds.

No matches have been postponed due to coronavirus in Scotland, but Celtic have been criticised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for travelling to Dubai for a winter training camp ahead of their match against Hibs.

Sturgeon has called on the Scottish FA to look into the trip, but no further action will be taken by the governing body.

Greenock Morton have confirmed that three players have tested positive for coronavirus and are self-isolating until Monday night.

Their Scottish Cup tie against Dunfermline on Saturday is already due for a pitch inspection and could be rescheduled for Tuesday.

St Johnstone insist their Scottish Premiership match at Dundee United on Saturday will not be affected after they recorded a positive test among their playing staff.

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