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Aston Villa sign Croatia No1 Lovre Kalinic in January

The Championship promotion hopefuls have announced that goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic will move to Villa Park on the first day of 2019.

Kalinic was part of the Croatia squad which reached the World Cup final and played the full 90 minutes in the group win over Iceland.

He was the main back-up to Danijel Subasic, who played the other six games including the final against France.

But Kalinic has since taken over the No.1 jersey following Subasic's retirement and was between the sticks for much of his country's Nations League campaign.

As first choice under Zlatko Dalic he conceded 10 times in his three appearances in the new competition.

Orjan Nyland has started all but one of Villa's 22 Championship fixtures this season and will come under pressure from Kalinic between when he arrives and the end of the campaign.

Unlikely to be eligible for the league clash against Queens Park Rangers on New Year's Day, Kalinic could make his debut against Swansea City in the FA Cup third round.

Manager Dean Smith said: "It’s been on the radar for the last three or four weeks,”

“We’re really pleased to have got him in. He’s the Croatian No.1, one that we’ve targeted and thankfully Jesus has got the deal done.

“Myself and Neil Cutler have had a good look at him for quite a while.

“I’m glad nothing came out about it until yesterday, there was a big smokescreen over it so we didn’t alert anyone else to him coming!

"I’ve spoken to Orjan and it should raise the competitiveness in the goalkeeping department to where we need it at a club of this size and push us on.“

“He’s 6 ft 7, he commands his box, he distributes really well, he’s good with both feet and he’s got a great presence about him.

“He’s a good personality and he’s one that will fit in straight away.

“I don’t believe you can sign anyone and be eligible for January 1 so his first game probably will be the FA Cup.”

Twelve points separate Villa from the Championship summit but the Midlanders have the chance to make up ground when they welcome leaders Leeds United on Sunday.

Trips to Swansea and Preston then follow before the turn of the year.

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