After Aston Villa battled through injuries to Jack Grealish and on-loan Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe to field a capable-yet-leaky side in December, you might be asking yourself one question: How can this get any worse for Villa?
Well, would a severe long term injury to the current number one goalkeeper answer that for you?
According to reports emerging from Norway and VG.no, Ørjan Nyland has fallen victim to a ruptured achilles tendon that will see him miss at least 2-3 months if he’s not out until the summer - and that is as much of a best case scenario that can be assumed from these initial reports. At the moment, Nyland will probably be in a cast for the next 6 weeks. There has been no public word from Villa at the moment.
If Villa’s goalkeeper has torn his achilles tendon, that’s a massive issue for a number of reasons. While AVFC will sign Lovre Kalinic in the coming days, they have no idea as to how well the Croatian international will adapt to his new role at Villa. If he needs as long as Nyland to bed into the club, then Villa face an issue. What’s more, there’s no guarantee at all that Kalinic will stay healthy for the rest of the season. I am rather optimistic that Kalinic will perform to high standards at Aston Villa, but if he’s facing as many shots as Nyland faces - that’s not an ideal situation for a new keeper to find his feet. These things do happen, and I trust that Kalinic will be able to make the most of this situation. It’s still a big ‘if’ for the Villa, though.
Villa managed to secure 4 points from three games in their tough festive slate of fixtures and Ørjan Nyland’s dramatically improved form between the goalposts was a large reason as to why. Now, the keeper will reportedly spend the long-term recovering from injury, which probably comes at the worst possible time for the Norwegian.
Villa can recall Jed Steer and that will likely happen. It’s pretty clear that Andre Moreira won’t start for Dean Smith’s first team and seeing as Mark Bunn serves as goalkeeping-depth bedrock for the team, Steer will likely be brought back from his loan spell Charlton Athletic to deputise once more. That would be a shame for the 26 year-old, who is enjoying a prolonged spell in an actual first-team, and couldn’t the administrational effort be saved in simply deploying Matija Sarkic as a back-up to Mark Bunn until Kalinic arrives? We’ll have to wait and see.
An injury to the achilles is not just painful, but it’s also debilitating. Nyland as a more ‘mobile’ goalkeeper will have a tough time rehabilitating, but people usually come back stronger from these situations. Here’s hoping that’s the case this time. Get well soon Ørjan!