‘We saw the team-sheet and the lads were buzzing’: Aston Villa’s youngsters were relishing FA Cup clash with star-studded Liverpool, says Mark Delaney as Under-23 boss pinches himself having managed the U9s only 10 years ago!
- Aston Villa fielded a young side for their FA Cup third round tie with Liverpool
- The first-team and coaching staff have been placed in Covid-19 self-isolation
- Villa recorded 14 positive tests among the first-team over the past six days
- Mark Delaney took charge of the game despite no time for tactical preparation
- The team comprised of under-23s and under-18s players on Friday night
Aston Villa Under 23s manager Mark Delaney could not hide his joy at taking charge of the first-team in their FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool.
Dean Smith and the entire Aston Villa first-team training cohort were forced into self-isolation this week after 14 positive coronavirus cases over the past six days.
The Covid-19 outbreak meant Villa had to field a group of U23s and UR18 players for the FA Cup fixture, with first-team manager Smith and his coaching staff also not allowed to attend the match.
Mark Delaney was proud to take charge of Aston Villa for their FA Cup match with Liverpool
Villa fielded a young side as the whole first-team set up have been put in Covid-19 isolation
Speaking as the Villa manager to BT Sport, Delaney said: ‘Certainly, selfishly it’s a proud night for me.
‘Ten years ago I was coaching the under 9s, now I’m taking on the best team around at the minute, the Premier League champions and a team that does well in Europe. But it’s (a challenge) we’re going to enjoy.’
The line-up had an average age of 18 years old and some of the players were dropped off by their parents at Villa Park as some of them are not old enough to drive.
The line-up included former Barcelona striker Louie Barry, while 20-year-old Dominic Revan captained the hosts.
The average age of the Villa squad was just while captain Dominic Revan is just 20-years-old
Liverpool, meanwhile, fielded Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and captain Jordan Henderson in their starting line-up among a host of first-team stars.
Villa received negative coronavirus tests for the available youth players at 10am on Friday morning – just under ten hours before kick-off – meaning there was not an opportunity to do any tactical training for the game.
Delaney claimed that he trusts his players to do their own analysis of Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions as the youngster watch Liverpool a lot.
The Villa youth coach added: ‘The players watch Liverpool a lot so they can tell me a lot about them! They have some exciting players, we’ve seen the teamsheet and the lads are buzzing.
Delaney said his Villa side were excited when they saw the Liverpool teamsheet pre-kick-off
Liverpool, meanwhile, fielded Mohamed Salah (left) and other stars such as Sadio Mane
‘We can match them in work rate and that’s all we can ask for.’
First-team manager Smith is in isolation but the Villa boss was allowed to have a virtual meeting with the young stand-ins before the match.
Delaney said: ‘We just had a meeting with the gaffer. He spoke to the lads in the changing room. They will be watching, they are all behind the players.
‘They are rooting for them. They are going to go out with smiles on faces and enjoy the evening.’
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