'He's fantastic' - Graham Potter backs former Sunderland man for vital role at Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa

Brighton and Hove Albion will make a key change to their line-up as they prepare to face Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa this Saturday

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 8:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 8:42 pm

Established No 1 goalkeeper Robert Sanchez will miss the trip to Villa Park following his red card in the final minutes of Brighton's 1-1 draw with Newcastle at the Amex Stadium last Saturday.

Former Sunderland stopper Jason Steele has featured for Brighton this season in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup and is set to make his Premier League debut for Albion at Villa.

Albion head coach Graham Potter says Steele has fully deserved his big opportunity and praised how the 31-year-old has trained and improved as a player during his time with Brighton.

Graham Potter has no doubts his No 2 goalkeeper Jason Steele will perform well at Aston Villa

"Really confident," said Potter when asked if Steele is ready for Saturday. "Jason trains well every day. Supporting role and he supports the team. He trains at a really high level and he has always done well for us.

"He is ready to play and fight for the team and I'm looking forward to seeing him play.

"It is his Premier League debut but that is what he is here for. That is the role that he plays. He wants to play, as all footballers do, but he has accepted his role in the team as a support to Rob.

"He does that but when there is an injury or a suspension he's the next in line. The improvement Jason has made since I have been here is incredible as a player he has been fantastic how he stepped up a level.

"He has earned the right. His work goes unseen a lot of the time. He finally gets a reward in terms of playing and now it's up to us to help him enjoy the game. A clean sheet and three points would be nice."

Potter's other main option was to play Dutch keeper Kjell Scherpen who joined Albion for £4.2m from Ajax last summer. Scherpen played in a pre-season friendly against Rangers but was then sidelined with an ankle injury. The 21-year-old is yet to make a first team appearance.

Potter added: "Jason’s played in the Carabao Cup, so Jason will be in goal and Kjell will support him. Jason has never let us down, he’s a fantastic guy and he will take the opportunity.

"His distribution is fantastic, makes saves. He knows the guys, works with us every day so no problems with Jason. That’s what he’s there for, to wait for an opportunity and to be ready and I know he will do that."

Sanchez, 23, will be available for selection for Albion's next match against Leeds at the Amex Stadium on November 27 and Potter has backed his young keeper to comeback stronger after the setback.

"It’s the life of a goalkeeper," said the Albion head coach. "It’s the life of a young goalkeeper that you have to take some adversity at times, some challenging moments.

"And it’s always about how you respond. A career isn’t built on success only, it’s built on moments like today, moments where confidence isn’t as high or form isn’t as good.

"That’s how young players develop and grow and we’ll support him and have the utmost faith and belief in him. We love him for what he has done with us, he’s been fantastic.

"It’s upsetting for him at the moment but he’ll get back stronger."