Jed Steer is no longer the forgotten man at Aston Villa since his return this January, as he continues to stake his claim for the number one jersey.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
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For some time Jed Steer was the forgotten man at Aston Villa, but now the 26-year-old is a regular in between the sticks. Is Steer finally fulfilling his potential and meeting his high expectations set as a youngster?
Steer signed professional terms with Norwich City at just 17 after eight years in the Canaries academy. The 6-foot-2 stopper was billed for big things, having played for England under 16’s, under 17’s and under 19’s. In 2011, former Norwich youth coach Ricky Martin said he was ‘probably the best under-18 goalkeeper in the country.’
However, Steer never made a league appearance for the Norwich, and after multiple loans, the Pride snapped him up on a free in 2013 as a back-up to Brad Guzan.
But the first five years of Steer’s career at B6 weren’t that successful either. The 26-year-old had made just eight competitive appearances at the Pride before the start of this season. Before this campaign, Steer had only had one season as a first-choice goalkeeper under his belt at Huddersfield in 2015-16, with a whole host of injuries derailing numerous other loan spells. However, with Sam Johnstone’s loan finishing, and Steer impressing in pre-season as well as starting the first game of 2018-19 away to Hull City, was his time at Villa Park finally coming to fruition?
No was the answer. The former youth international was ushered out of first-team proceedings by Steve Bruce who brought in Orjan Nyland and Andre Moreira on loan. Meanwhile, Steer left for Charlton on loan.
Steer impressed at Charlton, displacing Dillon Phillips and starting nearly every game up until the turn of the year.
He was recalled to Villa on the 31st December because of Nyland’s season-ending Achilles injury. Then after Steer replaced an injured Lovre Kalanic in the defeat to West Brom, the former Charlton loanee has been in the team ever since.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though. The 26-year-old conceded some questionable goals against Stoke City and Nottingham Forest. Plus he would’ve prevented Amari’i Bell from scoring for Blackburn at Villa Park, had he not parried Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick straight at the Rovers defender.
Nevertheless, Steer has been on fine form recently, with some crucial reactionary saves against Rotherham and a save from Stephen Fletcher’s spot-kick against Sheffield Wednesday. With Villa currently on an eight-game winning run, Steer has mostly delivered when called upon, which hasn’t been too regularly with Villa on an eight-game winning run. In March, Steer was rewarded with a contract that runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season.
Steers’ strength has always been his reactionary saves. At 6-foot-2 Steer has a presence but isn’t so tall that it means getting down low shots is a problem. However, in recent times he’s looked more comfortable during set-pieces. This not only comes down to having a strong group of centre-backs in front of him but the arrival of goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, who Dean Smith signed from West Brom in November.
There’s no doubt that a stop-start career in Aston has fuelled Steer’s hunger. He may have been at Villa for over half a decade, but at the moment, the 26-year-old feels like a new signing.