Exclusive: Whelan makes 'Crucial' Aston Villa transfer claim after 'Huge' update

Noel Whelan claims that Aston Villa manager Dean Smith must sign a goalkeeper this month after suffering a “huge blow” with an injury to Tom Heaton.

The former Leeds United striker and broadcast pundit, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the loss of the 33-year-old is major setback for their hopes of survival in the Premier League.

Villa confirmed on Friday that both Heaton and striker Wesley Moraes had suffered “significant knee ligament damage” in the win over Burnley and that they would be out for the rest of the season.

Whelan says that despite having the likes of Orjan Nyland and Jed Steer either available or closing in on a return from injury, Smith needs to sign an experienced keeper this month.

“They have to, they have to go into the market, there’s no doubt about it,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“It’s huge, absolutely huge. Not only are they hovering above the relegation zone, that is a huge blow to Aston Villa to lose an international goalkeeper at a time like this.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“It’s such a crucial part of the field that you need the experience, you need the backup there. Yes, you’ve got other people coming back from injury but they’re not fully fit yet.

“He’s got to go into the market, he’s got to be very, very clever with who he gets in and who’s available.

“He definitely needs somebody with experience, somebody with the know-how because we’ve seen what can happen at West Ham, it can be absolutely detrimental to your form and results.”

Heaton had played in all but one of the club’s 21 Premier League fixtures this season, sitting out the 2-1 defeat to Wolves through injury.

Jed Steer had taken his place in the starting XI but also suffered an injury, meaning Nyland has moved from third to first place in the pecking order this campaign.

In other Aston Villa news, Danny Mills has been wowed by a reported pursuit from the Villans this month.