Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has delivered a positive injury update on Tom Heaton.
Smith claims that Heaton could join the group in training next week and he is already back working with the club’s goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler.
“Tom is back throwing himself around with our goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler and I’m expecting him to be back with the group next week,” he said to the Telegraph.
“Obviously when he’s back, he will give me a great problem. But being in the industry for over 30 years as a player and manager you have these conversations.
“It’s part of the job. Players are paid to be footballers and I always say to them ‘It’s only my opinion – it’s up to you to try and change it.”
Heaton picked up a long-term injury last season and he has been out of action for months now. His return will certainly come as a boost to the squad and the fans.
Villa will now look to arrange some practice matches for the keeper so that he can regain his form and sharpness.
In the summer, Villa signed Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal as Heaton’s replacement and the Argentine keeper has been in fantastic form so far. It will be interesting to see if Heaton can win his starting berth back from the former Arsenal ace.
Smith will be delighted with the depth and quality at his disposal and the added competition will help both Martinez and Heaton improve as players.
There is no doubt that Martinez will be desperate for regular first-team football and it is one of the reasons why the 28-year-old joined Villa from Arsenal. Heaton will have to work very hard to take his place in the starting line-up this season.
Also, Heaton is 34 and Martinez is clearly the future of the club. The Argentine ace is younger and he is in top form right now. It wouldn’t be surprising if Heaton is used as a back-up to Martinez.
Villa have started the season in outstanding form and Smith may be reluctant to change a winning team, especially when Martinez has been key to their impressive start.