Dean Smith admits the ‘uncontrolled outbreak’ of Covid-19 cases at Aston Villa was a ‘warning’ to his side as they prepare to return to action this week.
Villa were hit with a number of positive cases within their squad following the turn of the New Year, the outbreak leading to the fielding of youth players for the FA Cup clash with Liverpool on January 8 and the subsequent postponement of Premier League fixtures against Tottenham and Everton.
Smith has now opened up on how rapidly the problem escalated with the clubs medical staff describing it as an ‘uncontrolled outbreak’.
“There were all negative tests on New Year’s Eve,” he said at his pre-match press conference. “We got tested again on 3rd/4th and then returned nine positive, six were players. We were tested again the next day and there was another five. We had a couple more positives after that too.
“The doctor called it an uncontrolled outbreak in our bubble. A lot were asymptomatic.”
Villa were forced to close their Bodymoor Heath training ground following the outbreak in positive cases, with Smith admitting he does not understand how the outbreak occurred given his staff and players adhered to coronavirus protocols.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 19, 2021
“I’ve no idea how it came into the camp. We followed all the protocols,” he said.
“Experience has taught us that it can hit you very quickly, but I’m very thankful that our doctor was quick to deal with it.
“It was a warning to us. You’re worried about anything you touch after that. Thankfully we stopped it when we could. I didn’t get it. The people who did are making a speedy recovery.”
Villa have since returned to training and will return to action with a trip to face in-form Manchester City on Wednesday night, and Smith admits his players are relishing the prospect of resuming their campaign following an enforced break.
“We’ll have had a three day build-up for the Manchester City game,” Smith added. “The first day was almost like the kids’ first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm.
“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. My players are ready to play against Manchester City.”