ASTON VILLA are on the verge of being kicked out of the FA Cup ahead of Friday night's clash with Liverpool.
The Premier League side have confirmed a 'significant' outbreak of coronavirus cases within the club.
Talks are said to be ongoing between Villa, the FA and Premier League after the team's training ground was shut.
Given the congested fixture schedule and limited timeframe before the FA Cup fourth round, clubs unable to fulfill this weekend's games are set to be kicked out of the competition.
A club statement read: "Aston Villa can confirm that the Club has closed its Bodymoor Heath training ground after a significant Coronavirus outbreak.
"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."
Villa hope to clarify the situation in the coming hours and are still hopeful the tie could proceed.
But the outbreak also puts their Premier League games against Tottenham, on Wednesday, and Everton, the following Saturday, in doubt due to self-isolation periods.
Should their opponents be forced to forfeit the game, Liverpool would be handed a bye to the next round.
Extensive testing of all teams left in the competition has uncovered a series of clubs hamstrung by the virus.
Shrewsbury are set to miss out on a televised home game against Southampton on Saturday night after an outbreak in their squad.
Derby and Middlesbrough have vowed to field teams of kids to ensure their games, against Chorley and Brentford respectively, go ahead despite a series of positive test results.
Having already abandoned replays to ensure the FA Cup can go ahead during the pandemic, the competition is running the risk of descending into farce on what is traditionally its most beloved weekend.
The fourth round is scheduled for January 23, just over a fortnight away, with the fifth round in the second midweek of February.
Therefore, FA bosses have planned to hold a 'double draw' on Monday to set out a clearer path ahead for clubs amid the fixture mayhem.
The third round is set to take place against the backdrop of England's third extensive pandemic lockdown, with cases rocketing across the country.
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