BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, July 12, 2012
US national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan is close to a new deal with Aston Villa where he has played since leaving MLS in 2008.

Guzan, 27, has earned occasional minutes with Aston Villa in his four years there but has always been considered the team's backup keeper. He did have a brief loan to Hull City in 2011 where he was a regular starter.

Last month Aston Villa hired new head coach Paul Lambert who says that a new deal with Guzan is close.

"It's near," Lambert said of the deal.

Last year Guzan was the backup to first choice keeper Shay Given, 36, who struggled at the 2012 European Championships with the Irish national team.

Lambert says that Guzan will have a fair chance at overtaking Given this year.

" I've watched Brad and some of his games when he was in the team last year and he was excellent," Lambert said. "I know he's always had that stigma of being the number two behind some really good goalkeepers here. But when you come back at the start of the season nobody knows what's going to happen and it depends on whoever does well."

When the Premier League season was over, it seemed likely that Guzan would not return to Aston Villa after he reportedly did not accept a contract offer during the second half of the season. Villa struggled mightily last year after winning just one of their final 16 league games.

Lambert looks forward to having a solid evaluation of his goalkeepers this preseason.

"Brad played very well the time he was in and maybe he found himself a bit unlucky to be back out," Lambert said. "The club needs two or three good goalkeepers, so when Shay comes back from the Euros it will be a big bonus and we'll see what happens."