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Dean Smith eager to keep Tom Heaton at Villa Park

Read Sport logo Read Sport 27/01/2021 Crippy Cooke
Tom Heaton throwing a ball: Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League © Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Sport Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League

Tom Heaton has recently come back from a serious knee injury but has found himself on the bench upon making his return to Aston Villa’s first team squad.

The 34-year-old hasn’t made an appearance at senior level since last January and has only represented the under-23s this season. He has been an unused substitute in Villa’s last five Premier League games.

However, Villa manager Dean Smith insists that the England international has a place in the squad, telling Birmingham Live: “(He’s a) valuable member of my squad.

‘‘Tom at the moment (is) on the bench. (He’s a) valuable squad member who wants pitch-time obviously but will have to be patient.”

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Heaton finds himself behind Emiliano Martinez in the pecking order as the former Arsenal goalkeeper is enjoying a dream debut season at Villa Park. The Argentine conceded only 18 goals in 17 Premier League appearances (1.06 per game) and boasts nine clean sheets (52.9% of games).

Martinez has faced 74 shots on target and has been equal to 56 of them (78.4%), so it’s hard to see Heaton getting into the team unless things change suddenly.

The 34-year-old joined Villa from Burnley in 2019 and has gone on to make 20 appearances in all competitions, conceding 35 goals and keeping four clean sheets (Transfermarkt).


Heaton had very much been Villa’s number one goalkeeper before last January’s cruciate ligament injury – ironically at the home of his former club in the previous instalment of tonight’s fixture – changed the course of his career in the Midlands.

As Villa travel to Turf Moor, he is very much a backup figure in Smith’s squad. A similar status at Burnley was the reason he left for Villa in the first place, and it may take a stroke of misfortune for Martinez to get him back into the side.


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