Dean Smith is likely to hand Jed Steer his first Premier League appearance since November 2019 with Emiliano Martinez missing for Aston Villa against Chelsea, per Birmingham Live.
Martinez and teammate Emiliano Buendia will miss the Stamford Bridge affair on Saturday after representing Argentina during the international break. Aston Villa agreed to release the pair for La Albiceleste’s 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures against Bolivia and Brazil.
The shot-stopper and playmaker would have had to quarantine upon returning to England after traveling to a red-list country. But have instead travelled to Croatia than flying straight back from Argentina to avoid self-isolating for 10-days, Sky Sports report.
Martinez and Buendia will train in Croatia before travelling to England and returning for the Villans’ following game with Everton. Smith is now likely to hand Steer a rare appearance at Chelsea in Martinez’s place, with the 28-year-old Aston Villa’s only senior back-up goalie.
Steer has not featured in the Premier League since an eight-minute runout against Wolves in November 2019. The £8k-a-week shot-stopper had started in place of Tom Heaton, who had sustained an injury in training, but suffered a calf injury soon into the Molineux clash.
The West Midlands derby was also only Steer’s second-ever top-flight game after a 1-0 loss to Burnley in May 2015. Tim Sherwood called on the 2013 arrival to start the final fixture of the 2014/15 season after a groin injury had ruled Shay Given out at home to the Clarets.
Steer has featured for Aston Villa this season after starting last month’s 6-0 win at Barrow in the Carabao Cup. But the shot-stopper last featured regularly for the Villa Park natives after making 16 appearances during the 2018/19 Championship season.
Martinez absence offers Steer big Aston Villa chance against Chelsea
Martinez’s absence, then, offers Steer a big chance to prove his worth to Smith and Aston Villa against Chelsea. Smith gave Steer 15 of his 16 regular-season outings in the second-tier during the Villan’s play-off winning campaign in 2018/19. Far more than his career 98 minutes in the Premier League over seven potential seasons in the top-flight.
The Norwich-born goalie kept six clean sheets over his outings between the sticks, and started all three play-off ties. Smith was full of praise for the man he will likely now rely on against Chelsea after saving two penalties during the semi-final against West Brom.
“It’s amazing what can happen and how opportunities arise,” he said, via the Independent. “Orjan [Nyland] was doing well but snapped his Achilles and the phone call went in to get Jed back. He’s been brilliant for us. They were two great penalty saves.”