Aston Villa supporters have been reacting to comments from Dean Smith that goalkeeper Tom Heaton’s return to the first-team is imminent.
The three-cap England international has not played for Villa since suffering a serious knee injury against Burnley on New Year’s Day, similar to his teammate Wesley Moraes.
It’s been a gruelling road to recovery, but one that is now close to completion.
Smith said of the 34-year-old (Express & Star): “Tom is back working with Neil Cutler now. I am expecting him to be with our group next week and we are looking to get him some practice games.
“When he is back and flying he will give me a great problem and one I enjoy having.”
He offered a solidity between the sticks that just wasn’t there with Pepe Reina and Ørjan Nyland in the second half of the season.
Heaton will now attempt to win back his place in the starting XI from a man who has become an instant crowd favourite at Villa Park – Emi Martinez.
The summer signing from Arsenal has been outstanding up to now, and is partly responsible for Villa being the strongest defensive outfit in the Premier League so far with just two goals conceded after four games.
Villa fans were delighted about Heaton’s return, but many were pretty sure he’ll have trouble picking up where he left off:
you love to see it 🤩
— jamie richards (@j_d_richards) October 21, 2020
Always nice to have a goalkeeper like him waiting in the wings for cup games and incase of injury. First time we’ve had real depth in the goalkeeper position for years
— Tom (@tom_avfc1) October 21, 2020
Liverpools situation is a great example. Unreal number 1 & shocking number 2. At least with injury on our end we have 2 to 3 really good keepers
— Gary Reynolds (@Gazpat87) October 21, 2020
Best backup keeper in the prem
— Josh🎃 (@AVFCJosh_V2) October 21, 2020
I love Tom, but no way is he going to take Emi’s shirt…
— Roger (@BarlowInBrazil) October 21, 2020
Good to have quality back up you never know when injuries occur particularly in training.
All we need now is Wesley to be back in full training
— john sweeney (@melton119) October 22, 2020
Bench and cup games for the lad as long as Martinez is fit im sorry but Martinez is probably the best keeper in the league atm
— RENI❄ (@RpmFifa) October 22, 2020
A headache i like 2 quality keepers.
— Michael Kerr (@Spikeymike84) October 21, 2020
Going to take a monumental mistake from Martinez for Heaton to get a look in.
— David Moore (@davemoore9) October 21, 2020