This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Aston Villa’s first-team squad is currently under siege from injury with the likes of Jack Grealish and Bjorn Engels both absent from the club’s most recent Premier League fixture against Wolves at Molineux.
But third-choice keeper Orjan Nyland has been speaking out regarding when to potentially expect the return of another absentee from the West Midlands clash – Tom Heaton.
Nyland, speaking to Norwegian publication Dagbladet (via the Birmingham Mail) said:
“Now one keeper is injured (Jed Steer) and will probably be gone for a while. So it is me and Tom Heaton who will fight for that place. Everything is relative.
“Injuries can take longer than expected, so you never know. It has been suggested that Heaton should be out for two to three weeks. It’s about being ready when the opportunity arises. They’re betting on me to the extent that they want me to be there. They have clear goals for me, and I think I’m a Premier League keeper.”
Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves was compounded by the pre-match news that a number of first-team players were absent from the first-team squad including captain Grealish and centre-back Engels, but the absence of summer signing Heaton was a considerable blow for the newly-promoted side ahead of their West Midlands clash.
Heaton, 33, had started all of Villa’s first 11 league games in the 2019/20 campaign, becoming a mainstay in Dean Smith’s starting XI.
But following an injury to the former Burnley man’s deputy, Jed Steer, third-choice keeper Nyland entered the field at Molineux and could be in contention to start against Newcastle if Heaton is not declared fit.
This is a huge opportunity for the 29-year-old, but even if he was to impress in Heaton’s absence, it would be difficult for Smith to justify selecting the Norwegian international ahead of his first-choice keeper in a bid to retain the club’s Premier League status. After all, he’s played just 24 times since arriving at Villa Park.
The Villans will be hoping for Heaton’s return to come sooner rather than later, but the news that the keeper could be back in two to three weeks, if Nyland’s comments prove to be true, will certainly be welcomed by the Villa faithful and manager Smith.