Orjan Nyland has had his fair share of critics this season after some questionable performances for Aston Villa.
Dean Smith’s men have been finding performances and results, and the goalkeeper looked to be improving.
That was until Wednesday night when they faced Nottingham Forest in an instant classic when the stopper’s performance was once highlighted.
The match ended 5-5 but what caught the eye of many of the club’s fans was the fact Nyland failed to make a single save during the contest.
Failing to do so brought his form and sustained place in the team back into question ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Riverside to take on Middlesbrough.
And he will need to be at his best and able to make saves if Villa are to get anything out of the promotion hopefuls.
Ahead of the game, Smith defended his first choice stopper and branded the prolonged criticism as “unfair.”
“I think the criticism he has received is harsh,” Smith told the Express and Star.
“On Wednesday, he didn’t have a chance for the first three goals. They were big chances for any team and I would expect us to score them against any goalkeeper.
“The fourth one you analyse it and see where it has gone into the net. I looked back this morning and you think: ‘I want my goalkeeper to get a hand on it’.
“That said, I cannot get away from the fact I was right behind it on Wednesday and as soon as it left his foot I thought: ‘That is a goal’.
“I can’t take that initial reaction away and the feeling I had on the night. It was a super strike and sat up nicely for him.
“The one Orjan will probably be disappointed with his the fifth one, even though it takes a flick off Axel Tuanzebe’s heel.
“It was a tough one to react for, but you don’t want to see it go in. Up until then, at Derby County for example, he has pulled of great saves and looked more commanding.
“I think the criticism is unfair.”
Despite the lack of faith from Villa fans, Nyland is expected to be between the sticks again tomorrow afternoon.
Dean Smith has to come out and back his goalkeeper, who you imagine is low on confidence, even after a mini up-turn in personal form.
Coming out and slating him would be the point of no return and you wouldn’t be able to see a way back for Orjan Nyland then.
So Smith has done the right thing, but there is no getting away from the fact the goalkeeper has been poor this season and will probably lose his place in January when a replacement is added to the side.
If Villa have honest promotion hopes then having Nyland in the team is counterproductive to those.
It might be harsh but it is true and the sooner January rolls around, the quicker the position between the sticks can be addressed.