‘Pepe is vastly experienced and he will be a real voice in the dressing room’: Former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in line to make Aston Villa debut as Spaniard integrates with new team-mates in hilarious initiation
- Pepe Reina is in line to make his Aston Villa debut in their clash with Brighton
- The experienced goalkeeper joined struggling Villa from AC Milan this month
- Villa boss Dean Smith has lauded the experience of his latest acquisition
- Smith also said Reina is ready to start Saturday’s vital game on the south coast
Pepe Reina is in line to make his Aston Villa debut on Saturday with Dean Smith backing the former Liverpool goalkeeper to bring a winning mentality into his side.
Smith confirmed Reina, who has joined on loan from AC Milan until the end of the season, was ready to start the vital relegation clash at Brighton if he is given the nod ahead of Orjan Nyland. That would make him Villa’s fourth goalkeeper of the season after Nyland and injured pair Tom Heaton and Jed Steer.
Reina, 37, has not played in the Premier League since his final game for Liverpool, against Queens Park Rangers in May 2013, but Smith is still convinced he can hit the ground running.
Pepe Reina is in line to start for Aston Villa for their crunch clash with Brighton on Saturday
Smith said: ‘Pepe is vastly experienced and he will be a real voice in the dressing room because we have a fairly young squad. He can certainly help them.
‘Pepe was watching us get beaten 6-1 [by Manchester City] last Sunday – and he still signed! I wouldn’t have brought anybody in with 16 matches to go if I didn’t feel they could play straight away.
‘Looking at the way he performs in training and listening to him speak – not a problem. He’s probably just what we need in the dressing room at the moment.
‘His experience tells you all you need to know – he’s a World Cup winner (Reina was part of Spain’s squad in 2010). He’s got an air about him. He knows what he’s about. He certainly won’t accept falls (in performance), that’s for sure.’
The former Liverpool goalkeeper has joined the struggling Villains on loan from AC Milan
Villa boss Dean Smith has lauded Reina’s arrival and praised his experience at the top level
Reina’s new team-mate Douglas Luiz has shared footage of the goalkeeper participating in his initiation as he and fellow new boy Danny Drinkwater looked to integrate with their new team-mates.
Drinkwater donned a wig as he sang in front of the Villa squad while Reina delivered a rousing rendition of a Spanish number.
Villa were also hoping to complete the signing of Genk forward Mbwana ‘Ally’ Samatta following medical on Friday. The Tanzania forward, who will require a work permit, is expected to cost about £8.5million.
Reina had his team-mates in stitches as he delivered his initiation song on Friday night