Aston Villa are reportedly keen on finding a replacement for injured number one goalkeeper Tom Heaton, with just 18 days to go until the return of the Premier League.

Heaton, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in The Villans’ win at Burnley on New Year’s Day, missed the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Englishman told The Birmingham Mail he expects to return for their trip to Leicester City on October 17. However, with fixtures against Manchester City, Sheffield United, Fulham and Liverpool to precede, Heaton’s alleged-return seemingly comes over a month too late, leaving the club with a shortage of proven ‘keepers in reserve.

According to reports, the Midlands outfit are potentially interested in two ‘keepers to deputise in the absence of Heaton: Dutchman Jasper Cillessen, and Manchester United’s Sergio Romero.

Aston Villa v Watford FC - Premier League
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Aston Villa have a ‘keeper crisis

Pepe Reina was brought in on-loan from Milan as cover during the latter half of last season, and played an integral role in the club’s survival. He kept two clean sheets from his final four league games and made a string of fine saves as the club finished the four matches unbeaten.

However, the Spaniard wasn’t acquired permanently, and rejoined parent club I Rossoneri following the Premier League’s conclusion. According to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Villa have missed out on Reina, who will have a medical at Lazio tomorrow ahead of a proposed two-year deal at I Biancocelesti.

Number two ‘keeper Örjan Nyland hasn’t been the most convincing replacement for Villa. He kept one clean sheet from his five league appearances last campaign, ironically in their controversial season-reconvening encounter against Sheffield United.

In the game, he made a calamitous error – clearly appearing to carry the ball over the line, but due to technical issues with the goal-line technology, it didn’t result in a goal.

Meanwhile, number three ‘keeper Jed Steer got injured eight minutes into his only league start of the campaign against Wolves.

Netherlands v Argentina: Semi Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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Jasper Cillessen between the sticks?

The aforementioned Cillessen has been on the radar of Villa, according to The Athletic. The ‘keeper joined Valencia last summer on a four-year contract from Barcelona, for a reported €35 million fee.

He made 30 appearances in his first full season across all competitions and has kept six clean sheets, including one in a victory against Chelsea in the Champions League.

The Netherlands shot-stopper also boasts terrific international experience, with 55 starts for the senior national team – keeping 24 clean sheets in the process, including four in the 2014 World Cup and two in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League.

However, the report from The Athletic suggested Aston Villa would only spend £10 million on a Premier League-experienced ‘keeper, which would seemingly end any hope of luring the expensive Cillessen (who hasn’t played in England) to Villa Park.

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
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Sergio Romero for Jack Grealish?

Manchester United have heavily been linked with Villa’s reported £75 million-rated Jack Grealish in recent seasons and have allegedly included ‘keeper Sergio Romero as part of the deal.

The Metro believe that United will use the Argentine ‘keeper as a means to land Grealish at a lower asking-price, having seen bids in the region of £55 million rejected.

Romero has seen his Premier League game-time reduced significantly in recent campaigns, failing to feature in each of their last two league terms. He has appeared in just seven league matches overall since joining in June 2015.

The Argentine was also benched for the inconsistent David de Gea in his side’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, despite keeping four clean sheets in his previous five. The feat was repeated in their Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla, despite seven clean sheets in nine appearances in this season’s competition.

With Dean Henderson returning to Old Trafford after two successive loan-spells at Sheffield United and demanding a number one spot, Romero will seemingly fall behind Henderson and De Gea in the pecking-order, and need to consider his United future.

He would certainly have a guaranteed starting-spot in Villa’s immediate fixtures and could definitely rival Heaton for the number one jersey, but ultimately it would depend on whether Dean Smith would permit talisman Grealish to leave the side.

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