Dean Smith is set to run the rule over Aston Villa prospects Viljami Sinisalo and Akos Onodi during pre-season training as he seeks a third-choice goalkeeper, per Birmingham Live.
The Villans currently have two senior shot-stoppers on the books in Emiliano Martinez and Jed Steer. But Smith hopes to bring depth to the position during the summer after Lovre Kalinic joined Hajduk Split on loan.
Tom Heaton also left Villa Park at the end of his contract last month and has since joined Manchester United. Wayne Hennessey could replace the 35-year-old to add experience between the sticks, with Aston Villa keeping tabs on the free agent.
Crystal Palace have confirmed Hennessey has left the south London side after seven years. The 34-year-old is now free to discuss a move to Aston Villa after returning from his Wales duties at Euro 2020. But the Birmingham outfit are yet to make any formal approach.
Instead, Smith will afford Sinisalo and Onodi opportunities to lay claim to Aston Villa’s third-choice goalkeeper role in pre-season. Sinisalo is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, while Onodi faced Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup.
An outbreak of coronavirus forced Smith to name a raft of youth talents against the Reds, per The Guardian. It was also the sole occasion that Onodi has featured in a senior matchday squad to date. While Sinisalo spent last season on loan at Ayr United.
Sinisalo to seize chance to impress Smith at Aston Villa
Sinisalo was a regular for Aston Villa in their U23s before joining Ayr on loan, and his spell in Scotland should help the Finland U21 international to seize his chance to impress Smith.
The 19-year-old kept nine clean sheets in 29 appearances in all competitions, before a groin injury cut his loan short. His efforts also caught Celtic’s attention. While Sinisalo and Onodi signed new contracts at Villa Park this summer, showing the belief Aston Villa have in them.
And Aston Villa’s belief in Sinisalo was already high before Smith sanctioned his loan move. Ex-Ayr boss Mark Kerr told the club’s website after signing the goalkeeper: “Villa consider Viljami one of the best of his age, anywhere in Europe. He is extremely highly rated.”