'He looks the one Dean Smith wants' - Whelan tips 60-times international to join Aston Villa
Aston Villa look likely to sign Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge this summer, according to Noel Whelan.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds United and Coventry City striker is convinced that Dean Smith will be eager to reunite with the 29-year-old to solve his team’s keeping problem.
It has emerged in the last week that Villa have made a move for Etheridge and, having had one bid rejected by relegated Cardiff, they are set to test the water with a fresh £9million offer.
Villa boss Smith and goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler helped to launch Etheridge’s career at Walsall, where he spent two years and made 93 appearances.
“He looks the one Dean Smith wants,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He is not going to get players he doesn’t know about, or isn’t sure about. He likes players that he has seen and knows their game.
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“There is that history there with Etheridge and we saw that Villa needed a keeper last season. It has been a problem position for them.
“They are going to need greater strength in depth for the Premier League, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Etheridge to come in and one of the current ones go out on loan.”
Villa used four different keepers in league matches in the 2018-19 campaign, Orjan Haskjold Nyland, January signing Lovre Kalinic, Jed Steer and Mark Bunn.
Steer ended the season in goal following injury and mixed performances from Kalinic, who was installed as the number one when he arrived.
Etheridge made the second highest amount of saves in the Premier League with 141 in the 2018-19 campaign, topped only by the 148 from Lukasz Fabianski .
In other Aston Villa news, Football Insider can reveal that the club are set to be hit by a transfer hammer blow as defender target set to join rivals by end of the week.