By Graham Hill
AFTER much speculation about who Villa’s No1 keeper target would be this summer, turns out it is someone closer to home than you might think.
A report in The Sun that Lovre Kalinic was set to leave the club – possibly on loan, sparked suggestions that a big goalkeeper signing was on the way.
The names in the hat over the past 24 hours have ranged from Stoke’s Jack Butland – who will sign for a Premier League club this summer, to Burnley’s ex-England keeper Joe Hart and former Villa loanee Sam Johnstone, now with West Brom.
But Smith is looking to a keeper he knows well – Neil Etheridge, 29.
And expect him to return for the Cardiff player despite having an initial £8million bid turned down.
The move would suit Etheridge who was relegated with the Bluebirds last season.
The Philippines International has worked with Dean Smith and Villa goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler at Walsall.
West Ham have shown an interest but Etheridge has clearly been lined up for a Villa Park move.
The Express & Star say that Etheridge believed Cutler had “taken his game to another level.” Cardiff are unlikely to let Etheridge go without a fight though so Villa will have to find more cash as part of Smith’s summer buying spree.