By Football Insider speaking to Kevin Campbell

25th Feb, 2020 | 7:27pm

Exclusive: Bruce tips Smith to start rarely-seen Villa player v Man City - 'Difficult decision'

Alex Bruce has tipped Aston Villa manager Dean Smith to hand goalkeeper Orjan Nyland a start in the League Cup final against Manchester City.

The son of former Villa boss Steve, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes it would be harsh not to give the 29-year-old the chance at Wembley after his heroics in the semi-final.

The Norwegian international stole the show at Villa Park back in January, repelling the Foxes time and again on the way to a 2-1 victory.

With loan signing Pepe Reina having taken the place of the injured Tom Heaton between the sticks, Nyland has struggled for games time, with the semi-final win his last appearance.

Bruce thinks that Smith will show faith and swap his keepers around for Sunday’s final, although would understand why he might keep the Spaniard in.

Asked if he thought Nyland would start, Bruce told Football Insider: “It will be harsh if he doesn’t, won’t it?

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“It will really, really surprise me if he doesn’t keep his place for the final, purely because he has such a good semi-final. We’ll have to wait and see, it’s a difficult decision for Dean Smith to make.

“I’ll be surprised if he picks Reina, however, I can understand if he does because of his experience for a big occasion, like it will be at Wembley.” 

Nyland has just seven appearances under his belt for the Villans this season, his three Premier League runouts coming as a result of injury to Heaton.

Having joined the club in 2018, he has a total of 30 games to his name, a serious injury ruling him out for the second half of last season.

In other Aston Villa news, Noel Whelan admits he loves what he has heard about the squad selection for Sunday’s clash.