Aston Villa have confirmed that Lovre Kalinic could be available for selection against Stoke City after returning from injury in the week. The goalkeeper suffered a head injury against West Bromwich Albion after a collision with Jake Livermore and was replaced by Jed Steer at half-time. A decision will be made on Friday.
Dean Smith said in Thursday’s pre-match press conference: “Lovre’s following the concussion protocol at the moment, so we’ll have more ideal (Friday) morning whether he’s available or not for Saturday.”
If passed fit, Kalinic should get the nod between the sticks for Saturday. Steer is an option for Dean Smith, having shut out Albion in the 45 minutes he played last Saturday. Mark Bunn hasn’t made the matchday squad for weeks, but he’s still in the first-team and available if needed as cover while Orjan Nyland continues his recovery.
Kalinic has made eight appearances in all competitions since joining Villa from HNK Hadjuk Split in January, conceding 15 goals and keeping only one clean sheet. The 28-year-old hasn’t set the place alight since his arrival, but he may have an opportunity to learn from his mistakes on the weekend.
Villa’s backline has been porous all season, with the Midlands outfit conceding 52 goals in 33 games, so Smith has to start stemming the tide to get an upturn in form. The Claret and Blues come into Saturday’s meeting with Stoke without a win in their last four games.