Alan Hutton claims that Aston Villa manager Dean Smith was protecting goalkeeper Orjan Nyland by axing him from the starting XI v Liverpool.

The former Villa and Scotland star, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes a lack of confidence could have caused the 29-year-old to make a mistake which could prove fatal to the club’s survival hopes.

The Norway international, who had started every game since the Premier League’s restart, was dropped in favour of Pepe Reina for the Villans’ 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

Orjan Nyland makes Premier League debut for Aston Villa

Having seen his old teammate struggle between the sticks at times, Hutton believes Smith made the right call by taking him out of the firing line.

“I do understand where the manager’s coming from, I think Nyland made a couple of mistakes that could have hurt his confidence even though they didn’t lead to anything,” Hutton told Football Insider.

“I think sometimes as a player, it’s better when the manager takes you out the firing line before something happens. I think that’s how he’s looked at it. You can’t really have any passengers – you’ve got five games, five cup finals left.

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“Maybe he’s thought his confidence has dipped, let me take him out, let me make the decision for him rather than him making a mistake and it leading to something else. It was a big game.” 

Nyland had started just one top-flight match prior to the Premier League lockdown, while had a further two substitute outings under his belt.

With five games left to play, Villa’s next clash sees them take on an in-form Manchester United side.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that John Terry has emerged as a candidate to become the manager of a Championship club.

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