COMMENT, By Graham Hill
THERE have been plenty of individual stars emerging during Villa’s sudden rise to being play-off candidates.
A seven match unbeaten run – including six wins in a row – make Villa one of the form teams in the Championship right now.
You would probably include leaders Norwich and fellow top six rivals Bristol City in that.
But there is no doubt that Villa have suddenly clicked.
Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings and Tammy Abraham – these are the names that spring to mind.
But no-one else should be forgotten in all of this. Particularly the man who has stepped out of the shadows to play his part.
Jed Steer has been at Villa Park now for six years. Yes, six.
He followed former boss Paul Lambert to Villa when he became a free agent at Carrow Road.
And, until now, he has stayed under the radar.
In fact, had circumstances been different, he would have been looking for a different kind of play-off bid – with Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic.
Steer was in goal for the Addicks and helping them to a top six finish in League One.
But when Norway keeper Orjan Nyland was ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles, Steer was recalled.
It looked like the 26-year-old would be warming the bench for the rest of this season.
After all, Villa had just spent £6million on Croatia keeper Lovre Kalinic.
But once Kalinic suffered a head injury in the defeat to West Brom, Steer has proved tough to dislodge.
After a Villa career which has seen him go out on loan to Doncaster, Yeovil and Huddersfield as well as Charlton, Steer was in no mood to waste the chance he had been given.
And since then, Steer has conceded four goals in those seven unbeaten starts.
Boss Dean Smith rewarded him with an extra year’s contract and Steer has responded.
His role as unlikely hero was crowned last Saturday at Hillsborough when he saved Steven Fletcher’s penalty and provide the base for another Villa win.
Looks like his loan days could be over for now. And whatever you might think of Lambert’s reign as Villa boss, Steer is a welcome leftover from those days.