Dean Smith says the “uncontrollable” coronavirus outbreak which caused two of Aston Villa’s league games to be postponed is a warning to other clubs. Boss Smith takes his side to Manchester City on Wednesday, having only reopened their training ground on Sunday.
Villa have not played for 19 days after two Premier League games were postponed when several players and staff tested positive for Covid-19. “It is a warning and it was certainly a warning to ourselves,” Smith said. “You’re worried about anything you touch after that because you can see how rampant it is.” Smith would not name which players had caught the virus and who was still struggling, but said his team selection for the trip to Etihad Stadium would be “affected”.
Villa’s training ground at Bodymoor Heath was closed on 7 January and the players only returned on Sunday, giving them three days to prepare for second-placed City. “The first day was almost like the kids’ first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm,” said Smith, whose side are 11th in the table. “It was good to see them back on the grass again. They looked really bright, so I’m hopeful for a bright return. “I’m not going to make any excuses for the issues.”
The outbreak began shortly after Villa lost 2-1 at Manchester United on 1 January.