Aston Villa appear to be capable of putting together a push for automatic promotion this season, with Steve Bruce’s side lying six points away from second-placed Cardiff City approaching the halfway stage of the campaign.
The former Manchester United defender strengthened extremely well in the summer transfer window on a limited budget, bringing in an excellent range of experience to blend with the talented youth stars emerging from the club’s impressive academy.
Bruce also utilised the loan market well, securing the services of Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
The 24-year-old has impressed between the sticks, conceding just eighteen times in twenty-one appearances, with his form alerting Premier League sides as to his availability.
Defender Neil Taylor has however urged his teammate to remain with the club beyond the January transfer window, despite The Birmingham Mail reporting that his parent club were keen to trigger a clause in his contract to extend his deal.
“I’d like to see him here permanently,” Taylor said.
“Any player playing as well as that you’d like to keep.
“Sam can be as good as he wants, he should kick on from here and the sky is the limit.”
Johnstone has proven to be one of the most consistent performers at the club this season, and Bruce would love to turn his loan spell into a permanent deal.
United are keen to maintain the youngster’s status at the club, and Bruce will be resigned to losing the player at the end of the season, should Johnstone not look to force through a move.
Competition for places at Old Trafford is exceptional, with David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira all ahead of the Englishman in the pecking order, so perhaps Johnstone will consider leaving to bolster his chances of regular football.
Should such a situation arise, Bruce must ensure that he heads the queue for the player’s signature.
Villa fans, how essential is the signing of Johnstone at the end of the season? Have your say below…