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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).

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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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