Aston Villa’s Sam Johnstone celebrates after their second goal
James Chester has expressed his delight at Sam Johnstone's current form and insisted that the Aston Villa defence must shoulder some of the blame for the criticism he received earlier on in his loan spell, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Johnstone initially struggled after joining the Villans on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window, leaving the supporters to question the point in signing him in the first place.
However, the last few weeks have seen Villa enjoy a stunning run of five wins in six games, and it is fair to say that Johnstone has started to win the fans over with the role he has played during that run.
Incredibly, the winning goal in the defeat to Huddersfield was the only time in that run that Villa have conceded a goal, with the side keeping clean sheets in all five wins. And Chester has tipped the stopper for a bright future, while also suggesting that he should not be scapegoated for their previous struggles.
“It was a difficult start for him here and I don’t think we helped him, we were all over the place at some points," he told the Mail.
Aston Villa’s James Chester celebrates at the final whistle
“I’m delighted for him. He is showing what a really good keeper he is and I am sure he has a bright future ahead.”
The play-offs may now be too far away for Steve Bruce's men to make a late surge - they are currently 11 points back with just eight games to go - but a continuation of their recent run will certainly boost their chances of promotion for next season.
Villa will have picked up plenty of belief and momentum from being so difficult to break down recently, and Bruce will be hoping that maintaining that form will see them take that confidence into the next campaign.