By Football Insider speaking to Kevin Campbell

3rd Mar, 2020 | 10:13am

'Big loss' - Exclusive: Bruce analyses crushing Villa blow & if star can ever be same again

Alex Bruce has claimed Aston Villa striker goalkeeper Tom Heaton has been a “big loss” to the team over the past two months. 

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the just retired ex-Premier League defender revealed he is a big admirer of the England international and backed him from bounce back from his shattering injury in final years of his career.

Villa signed Heaton for £8million from Burnley last summer as part of a massive overhaul of the playing squad and he was the first choice keeper in the first half of the season.

But Heaton suffered knee ligament damage in the same match as striker Wesley at the turn of the year, which the club revealed will sideline the pair for the rest of the season.

Big loss, Premier League experience – he gives that calm, composed kind of feel to the
back four – and he’s consistently good,” Bruce told Football Insider.

“He’s always been good Tom, he’s been a good keeper for a number of years now so they’re very unlucky to lose two very, very key players for them with John McGinn as well.”

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Villa moved quickly to replace Heaton and signed Pepe Reina on loan from Milan in January for the rest of the season.

Bruce is in no doubt that experienced campaigner Heaton, 33, can come back from his injury and still be a major Premier League force.

“I think for a goalkeeper it’s a bit different because you don’t need to run around like an outfield player,” the ex-Leeds United and Hull City man added to Football Insider.

“He’s come back from the shoulder injury and showed good form so he’ll be looking to come back from this cruciate injury and do the same.

“He’s a good character, a good type, a good professional – he’s one of those lads where if you want anybody to do well, you want him to do well and come back.

“He’ll give himself every possibility because he’s a well known to everyone as a good professional.”

In other news, Liverpool have been tipped to sign an Aston Villa player this summer by well-informed source.