2a. and 2b. A #1 goalkeeper and a long-term option at centre-back
2a: #1 Goalkeeper
Attainability: Fairly Easy
2b: Long-term option at centre-back
Attainability: Moderately Difficult
Ørjan Nyland has not been up to the required standards for a promotion-contending club. He has dropped far too many points this season for Aston Villa. As recently as one week ago in the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion, Nyland partially caused two points to slip away.
Villa have a goalkeeper on-loan in 23-year-old André Moreira, but he can’t even get in the squad as deputy over Mark Bunn. Smith and Villa goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler have probably already made a decision. If they choose an external option, Burnley’s Tom Heaton and Newcastle’s Karl Darlow have been rumored in recent weeks and seem available.
Conversely, a reserve centre-back is crucial depending on Smith’s view of James Bree as a developmental player. Mile Jedinak is injured again, and not really an ideal option for the position. He’s also a free agent at season’s end.
James Collins, a free agent training with Villa, is hurt for the second time. It’s beginning to look like he won’t be offered a deal. In any case, he won’t be with Villa by season’s end.
A young-ish centre-back (preferably left-footed) offers competition and injury cover for James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe. The latter of whom is a loan signing, while the former has just 1.5 years running on his deal. Like the left-back situation, if Smith doesn’t sign one in January, he will definitely sign one or two in the summer.