Steve Bruce has questioned the decision to allow Aston Villa to play a youth team against Liverpool, saying it “devalues” the FA Cup.
Villa’s entire first team is in self-isolation after an outbreak of coronavirus. Indeed, the announcement of a raft of positive tests only came on Thursday, when the club closed its training ground.
As such, Friday’s clash with the Reds was in doubt but Under-23s boss Mark Delaney will take charge of a youthful team.
Newcastle boss Bruce, meanwhile, is still struggling with the aftermath of his own side’s recent outbreak. However, he feels that opting to play a weakened side is not the solution to a lack of squad numbers.
The manager said: “I think it devalues the FA Cup.
“We understand the restrictions, the season has been squashed and there is no room for anything else. (But) to play weakened teams and your youth team is not the way round it for me, personally.”
Newcastle are still feeling the after-effects of their own coronavirus outbreak. Captain Jamaal Lascelles only received given the green light to resume training this week after shaking off the virus.
Alain Saint-Maximin, meanwhile, has returned to Tyneside but is still awaiting the all-clear.
Bruce admitted he felt conflicted about continuing the season, adding: “We have had two players who were very, very sick and one or two members of staff who were nearly hospitalised.
“It’s not been easy but yes we’ll keep going along – financially it’s right but maybe morally it’s wrong.
“All of us are suffering and we are the lucky ones providing an entertainment that people are tuning into to watch, but there will come a stage where we have to make a decision, we hope in the next two or three weeks, (because) we don’t want to see these outbreaks.”
Villa chief sends youngsters message
Elsewhere, Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has backed the club’s youngsters to seize Friday’s opportunity.
Delaney will play a mixture of Under-23 and Under-18 players in the Villa Park tie.
Purslow also said that he felt “jealous” at the players’ chance to face the Premier League champions.