Aston Villa’s manic two days from pep talks to getting dropped off by parents

Many of Aston Villa ’s young players had to be dropped by their parents for the FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool.

The club’s Covid-19 outbreak meant Dean Smith and his first-team stars were unable to play on Friday night.

So Villa had to turn to their teenage academy talents to take on the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Liverpool’s star-studded lineup showed Jurgen Klopp was not going to make it an easy night for the Villa kids.

And it has been one hell of a few days for them after discovering they would be playing against the Premier League champions less than 48 hours before the game.

Before kick-off against Liverpool, Villa CEO Christian Purslow told BT Sport: "Our experience of this situation in the past two days has been a frightening scenario because we went from 100% negative on 1 January to 14 cases.

"We had a tricky day yesterday to try to find enough players who'd be able to represent the club tonight. The players were tested and the results came back this morning.

"These players have had no contact with any of the players in the first team. Many of them are so young their mums and dads will be dropping them off at Villa Park tonight."

Academy coach Mark Delaney, who managed the team in Smith’s absence, added: "It's been a manic couple of days. The manager rang up on Thursday and said 'it looks like you might have to take the game'.

"There are excited boys in there. They're looking forward to it. This is the biggest opportunity you can have.

"At the start of every season we say you have to be ready for these opportunities. Today it's as a group which doesn't happen often.

"We're missing some of the under-23 players who were training with the first team.

"We can match them with attitude, desire and workrate and that's all I ask.

"We've just done the meeting with the gaffer. He's spoken to the players in the dressing room [on a call]."

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