Phil Thompson has told Soccer Saturday (broadcast on 29/2; 14:01) that he would pick Pepe Reina ahead of Orjan Nyland in the Aston Villa goal for the Carabao Cup final.
Dean Smith has a tough decision to make ahead of Sunday’s final. Nyland has been between the sticks throughout their run to Wembley.
And it must be noted that the 29-year-old has been outstanding at times, particularly during the semi-final ties with Leicester City.
But Reina has been the Villans’ first-choice in the league since his arrival during the January transfer window. And with Nyland previously struggling when he had been first-choice at Villa Park, some Villa fans may be hoping that Smith does make a change.
And ahead of the Wembley showdown, Thompson suggested that he would be tempted to give the former Liverpool man the nod.
“Pepe is a good player and one to have around for these games,” he told Soccer Saturday. “His presence on the pitch. I know you can say Nyland, and you’re quite right, in this run, he’s been terrific. But if it was me, I would go with Pepe Reina.”
It is going to be a crucial decision. It would not be a huge surprise to see Manchester City control the game for large parts, and thus, the Villa goalkeeper could be kept incredibly busy.
As Thompson notes, Reina has a lot of experience of playing in the big games. The situation will not get to him.
But Nyland has staked his own claim to keep his place with his semi-final display. And it would arguably be harsh if Smith decided to make a change for the final.