First FA Cup third round tie falls to COVID-19

Southampton‘s FA Cup third round tie against Shrewsbury Town has been called off due to a number of positive coronavirus cases in the League One side.

The Football Association has yet to decide whether the game will be rescheduled or whether it will be considered forfeited and Southampton handed a pass to the next stage.

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“Shrewsbury Town FC informed the FA that there have been a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases at the club such that they did not have a sufficient amount of fit, non-isolating players who would be able to play in the fixture,” the FA said in a statement.

“Shrewsbury Town FC provided the FA with details of the medical advice it had received and its communications with local Public Health England and liaised with the FA’s COVID Medical Officer for the Emirates FA Cup.

“The FA also requested and considered further information regarding Shrewsbury Town FC’s ability to fulfil the fixture. There will be a meeting of The FA’s Professional Game Board early next week to make a decision as to what will happen with the fixture.”

Shrewsbury had announced on Wednesday that they had a number of positive tests and were working with the FA on whether the game would go ahead or not.

The FA has made it clear to clubs that games must go ahead if sides are able to field a minimum of 14 players, even if that means including youth players in the squad.

This season’s fourth round is due to take place on Jan. 23 — giving clubs just two weeks to find a new date for any postponed ties. With a full round of Premier League games on the midweek commencing Jan. 18, ties involving top-flight clubs are unlikely to be rescheduled if they cannot be played at the first attempt.

Championship club Derby County, managed by former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney, announced on Wednesday they will play their tie against National League North team Chorley (Saturday at 7.15 a.m. ET, live on ESPN+) with several youth-team players after also being hit by a number of positive cases among their first-team squad.

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