Concern grows at coronavirus surge with Aston Villa v Liverpool FA Cup clash now in doubt

Jack Grealish of Aston Villa (L) lifts the trophy with Dean Smith of Aston Villa following victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo is alarmed by the rising number of Covid-19 cases within English clubs and fears the situation will worsen.

Aston Villa's FA Cup third round-match against Liverpool on Friday is in doubt after Villa reported a "significant" Covid-19 outbreak in their squad, while Shrewsbury Town's clash at Southampton will not go ahead after an outbreak at the third-tier team.

A final decision on whether the game at Villa Park will take place at all will be made on Friday, while even if it goes ahead, the Premier League club are preparing to field a team of youngsters for the match.

Villa manager Dean Smith, his coaching staff and the rest of the club's first-team squad will not be involved after the outbreak forced the closure of the club's Bodymoor Heath training headquarters on Thursday.

Wayne Rooney and Championship side Derby's first-team squad will miss their FA Cup tie at Chorley on Saturday following another surge in coronavirus cases.

Four Premier League games and over 50 games in the English Football League – which governs the three divisions below the top flight – have been postponed so far this season.

"Unfortunately, it's going to happen more," Nuno said, ahead of Friday's FA Cup third-round clash against Crystal Palace.

"Just look at the news. The expectations are terrible. It's going to get worse."

The Premier League on Tuesday returned 40 new Covid-19 cases – the highest in a week this season after two rounds of testing last week.

Players and staff at top-flight clubs are being tested twice a week after a highly infectious variant of the novel coronavirus led to a surge in cases across the country and forced the British government to announce a new national lockdown.

"In football we live in a bubble and don't always feel what society is feeling," Nuno said. "But it's tough for everyone. Players are only human and the rise in cases is scary."

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