Aston Villa insist Manchester City game on despite 35 people self-isolating

Aston Villa insist their game at Manchester City next week will go ahead despite their COVID crisis engulfing up to 35 people.

Villa's Premier League home game with Everton on Sunday was yesterday postponed following 14 positive tests last week.

But the number of personnel affected is as many as 35 due to close contact rules.

It includes most of the first team squad, coaches and several medical staff.

These individuals were all instructed to self-isolate for ten days in line with Public Health England guidelines.

Villa's training ground remains closed with first team players and staff not due to return until Sunday when their isolation ends.

They will also have to first test negative for the virus before resuming first team training.

The crisis left the Premier League with little choice but to agree to Villa's request to postpone Sunday's game despite having already moved it back from Saturday 5.30pm.

It was the second successive top-flight home clash Villa have been forced to postpone after CEO Christian Purslow admitted they were suffering from a “very nasty out-of-control outbreak”.

Their clash with Spurs, scheduled for Wednesday January 13, was also postponed as Tottenham were given a home game that night with Fulham instead.

While Villa were previously forced to field a youth team last Friday night against Liverpool in the FA Cup at home in a 4-1 loss.

No first-team players were available as their starting XI comprised of seven U-23 players and four from the U-18s.

It followed Villa confirming nine players and five staff had tested positive last week and were self-isolating.

They were virtually the first positive test results the club had recorded since testing started.

Yet now Villa boss Dean Smith, whose side are eighth in a promising season, has a lot of challenges with three games in hand on some teams.

Their next game is at Manchester City on Wednesday which the club are confident of fulfilling.

One of their games in hand at home to Newcastle, postponed from December 4 after the Magpies' own coronavirus outbreak, has now been rescheduled for next Saturday January 23.

A statement said: “The Premier League, in consultation with its clubs, has enhanced its COVID-19 protocols, in addition to reimplementing a twice-weekly testing programme as the heath of players and staff remains the priority.

“The protocols, which strengthen key elements of the existing guidance, came into immediate effect last week.”

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