Alan Hutton has suggested that pre-season will act as a shootout for the three fit Aston Villa goalkeepers to play the first games of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the ex-Villa defender believes former teammates Orjan Nyland, Lovre Kalinic and Jed Steer all have the ability to stake a claim in Tom Heaton’s absence.
Speaking to VillaTV, Heaton confirmed that he is set to miss the start of the season due the injury picked up back in January and that he expects to be absent for the first three matches at least.
Croatia international Kalinic has returned from his loan at Toulouse while Steer is available again after his injury problems last season.
Hutton believes that all three are in contention to take Heaton’s place and believes they are in a straight fight to earn the starting role.
Asked if the trio were facing a pre-season training shootout to start the season between the sticks, Huttont told Football Insider: “I think so. I think that’s how you have to look at it.
He’s got Nyland, Kalinic is back. Jed Steer’s been unlucky with injury, let’s put it that way. I thought he was great in the Championship, really held his own and then got injured so it’s been difficult for himself.
“If I was one of them I’d be giving everything because you know you’ve got an opportunity there to go and stake a claim. Yes, Heaton’s the number one but if you start the season well and the team starts the season well and you get a couple of clean sheets, well the manager can’t change it. That’s how I’d be thinking.
“I think between the three of them there’s enough for Heaton. Obviously I played alongside all of them so I do believe on their day they’re excellent goalkeepers. It’s just about showing that on the pitch and I’m sure they will.”
Pepe Reina was brought on loan in January to replace Heaton but the former Liverpool shot-stopper looks set to join Lazio.
Of Villa’s goalkeeping options, only Kalinic did not play for the club last season as Steer and Nyland made four and 12 appearances respectively.
In other Aston Villa news, Hutton claims a £16million-rated player could thrive at the club.