By Paul Robinson

5th Aug, 2020 | 9:07pm

Exclusive: Robinson makes big Heaton claim after reported Villa transfer update

Paul Robinson has tipped Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton to be Dean Smith’s number one next season, as he looks set to return from injury.

The former Tottenham and Leeds goalkeeper, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, insisted the former Burnley stopper had been Villa’s “player of the year” before his season-ending injury in January.

Villa have a goalkeeper decision to make as AC Milan seek to part with Reina, according to BirminghamLive.

But Robinson has backed Heaton, who he coached at Burnley, to make the number one jersey his.

“Tom is a top class goalkeeper, I worked him with at Burnley,” Robinson told Football Insider. 

“Not only is he a top class goalkeeper but he’s a top class professional off the field as well.

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“To have him back in and around the squad, will be massive. He was their player of the year until he got injured this season.

“You just hope he recovers and gets his fitness back and he’s able to have no repercussions of his injury.

“He’s had plenty of time now to do his rehabilitation, to get himself right and 100% fit for when he can go back into the team.

“They’ve had Nyland and Pepe Reina. Reina has done a good job for them this season and I was surprised Nyland replaced him for the restart, but Tom is without doubt the number one there.”

Heaton, who arrived at Villa from Burnley last summer, immediately established himself as the first-choice between the sticks.

He played 20 times before being sidelined, with Dean Smith signing Pepe Reina on loan to cover his absence.

Villa’s other option between the sticks is Norway international Orjan Nyland. He has been at Villa Park since joining from German side FC Ingolstadt in August 2018 and is contracted to stay with the Villans until 2021.

In other Aston Villa news, Aston Villa working on £50m double swoop after huge development.