Aston Villa in contract talks with Brad Guzan


Aston Villa are holding talks with keeper Brad Guzan over a new contract as he prepares to make his first Barclays Premier League appearance of the season at Bolton tomorrow.

Guzan has to fill the gap left by Shay Given who will be sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury.

The United States international has had few opportunities since joining Villa three years ago because of the form of Brad Friedel and now Given.

But Villa boss Alex McLeish has faith in the ability of Guzan whose current deal runs out next summer.

He said: "This is a challenge for Brad now, coming in, and a good opportunity for him to show how good a goalkeeper he is.

"Hopefully we can defend well enough so that they (Bolton) don't get to him too much.

"But we know that in a game, he'll have to come to the fore and we believe in him and we've got good faith in him.

"He's extremely unlucky to have been understudying some great goalkeepers, but now his chance has come."

McLeish admitted: "Brad did hint that possibly he was looking to go elsewhere and play first team football but, even before Shay got injured, we told him we needed him and we valued him.

"We'd been talking about a new contract and I guess that will probably be talked about in the coming few weeks."

McLeish is expecting a positive response from his players at the Reebok Stadium after the home setback against Manchester United.

He said: "We've been over the United game again and there is some basic stuff we can do much much better.

"At the same time, we are getting some good performances - but I am looking for some outstanding performances.

"The gauntlet is down. We give players an opportunity and they have to show us they can be outstanding for this club.

"We have to be prepared and leave no stone unturned in asking the players what we want of them and it's up to the players to execute that on the pitch.

"The experienced players definitely care. They've got a pride, they've been there for a long, long time.

"It's about trying to instil the winning mentality and winning toughness into some of the young lads as well."

McLeish is aware of the pressure for success in the Premier League and coming under the media spotlight and understands the approach of Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas this week to criticism.

He said: "The Premier League has a massive profile. Failure is monstrous and the margins of success and failure can be minuscule but the consequences are enormous.

"The social networks and phone-ins have evolved and have made it a blame and knee-jerk culture.

"You've got to deal and live with it. That's just the way it is. You keep your powder dry until you have a moment like Andre Villas-Boas the other night.

"If I was to listen and read everything, the shoulders would be hunched. Because of what people tell you you are aware of what's out there but why listen or read that?

"It would not help any individual at all. No one would like reading that about themselves. There's valuable info through criticism, definitely and you can learn from it.

"It's a little bit tactical as well, creating a siege mentality of, 'They're all against us."'

Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov and Stephen Ireland will be in contention to replace on loan Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas who will be sidelined for six months after surgery on his Achilles.