Aston Villa defender Neil Taylor has told of his desire to see goalkeeper Sam Johnstone remain at Villa Park when his loan from Manchester United ends in the summer and believes it is in his best interests to play regular football at Villa Park rather than warm the substitutes' bench at Old Trafford.
Johnstone has been pivotal to Villa's charge for promotion back to the Premier League this season, keeping nine clean sheets in 21 Championship appearances to help Steve Bruce's side take pride of place in the play-off positions, 11 points off league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers.
United are already well-stocked in the goalkeeping apartment at Old Trafford - David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira are the current options available to Jose Mourinho - but the Red Devils have been impressed by Johnstone's performances in the Midlands and are said to be looking to extend the 24-year-old's contract, which expires in the summer.
But Johnstone's chances of displacing De Gea and emerging as United's first-choice goalkeeper in the coming seasons are slim to say the least, and Taylor, who joined Villa from Swansea City in January, believes the former England youth international should continue to play football at a "decent level" rather than contend with little more than a watching brief in Manchester.
"I'd like to see him here permanently — any player playing as well as that you would like to keep," Taylor was quoted as saying by The Express. "But clubs like United don't extend your deal for no good reason.
"Sam can be as good as he wants — he's still a young goalkeeper. He should kick on from here and the sky's the limit for Sam. But the most important thing is he's playing football at a decent level — he's not sitting on the bench in the Premier League."
Villa had to cut their cloth accordingly in the summer after spending heavily - and unwisely - in the previous campaign, and will no doubt hope that Johnstone rejects a prospective contract offer from United and becomes available on a free transfer in the summer.
Villa boss Bruce, who has a strong connection with United having won countless honours during his time as a player at Old Trafford, is desperate to see the former Preston North End loan star remain a part of his squad next season and seems to be prioritising his goalkeeper's future.
"We will do everything in our power to get him here permanently," Bruce said. "He is going to find it difficult at United to break through because of what they have got so we are hopeful."