Aly Cissokho full of praise for Aston Villa teammate Mark Bunn

The veteran goalkeeper has kept three clean sheets in five Premier League starts since replacing Brad Guzan as Villa's No. 1 last month.

Aston Villa defender Aly Cissokho has hailed goalkeeper Mark Bunn for his displays since taking Brad Guzan's place in the side.

Bunn, 31, originally joined Villa on a two-year deal last July after being released by Norwich City, where he spent the previous three seasons as the Canaries' No. 2 keeper.

He was initially expected to fill the same role at Villa following Shay Given’s move to Stoke City, but Guzan’s poor form over the first half of the campaign prompted manager Remi Garde to make a change between the posts last month.

The former Blackburn Rovers man has since kept three clean sheets in five Premier League starts – one more than his American counterpart managed in the previous 20 top-flight matches – and also saved a first-half penalty from Riyad Mahrez in the 1-1 home draw with high-flying Leicester City.

He has still not seriously been tested by any opponent – having only needed to make a total of 12 saves since coming into the line-up, but the Camden-born stopper’s introduction to the side does seem to have instilled a great deal more confidence in a backline which had conceded 37 goals in Guzan's 20 appearances.

Speaking to AVTV, Cissokho was full of praise for the summer signing’s recent performances and cited his communication skills as one of the core reasons for the team’s improved defensive showings over recent weeks.

Asked if was impressed by Bunn’s form, the 28-year-old left-back said: “Yes, of course. I met him at the start of preseason. Then I was on loan [at Porto], but when I came he replaced Brad and I think he’s doing well.

“Every game he saves us. We need saves because it’s not easy to defend for 90 minutes and I think it’s always good to have a goalkeeper who saves goals and speaks. He talks and shouts a lot – he gives instructions and that’s very helpful.”

Bunn is not the only Villa player who Cissokho believes has been key to shoring up the defence, though, as the Frenchman also thinks that Micah Richards has proven just as crucial following his recent move to right-back.

The 27-year-old team captain previously spent the majority of his Manchester City career at right-back but was promised the chance to establish himself at centre-half upon joining the claret and blues on a free transfer last summer.

He insisted at the time that it was his best role, but while his initial performances proved commendable, his lack of natural instinct in the heart of defence were soon exposed during the club’s 19-game winless streak in the top-flight.

However, an injury to Alan Hutton early last month has since seen the ex-City youngster return to the position where he first made a name for himself, and Cissokho thinks that the backline has benefited as result.

“I think he’s doing well on the right,” Cissokho told AVTV. “He used to play there with Man City so he knows the job. This season he was supposed to play at centre-back but injuries and other things mean he’s playing at right-back.

“I think he’s got the experience to play central, but he’s doing well at right-back and it’s good to have a captain who gives the spirit that makes the other players want to follow him.”

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