He’s came and gone, the dust has settled and a replacement has arrived, but that doesn’t mean Livingston fans won’t remember Matija Sarkic’s efforts during the first half of this season.
The Montenegro international has returned to Aston Villa following a promising spell at Livi. It’s a blow for the Lions but they have moved to replace him with Ryan Schofield. Dean Smith’s side have recalled him after an injury to first-choice keeper Tom Heaton.
Whilst he didn’t come into the side straight away, Sarkic worked hard to get into Gary Holt’s XI. Once he did, he made sure his adopted boss didn’t regret that decision.
Set the wheels in motion
Sarkic was limited to cup appearances prior to his heroic league debut against Celtic. An eye catching performance in front of the BT cameras against Rangers first brought Sarkic’s skills to the attention of the wider Scottish football community.
He displayed great handling, distribution and an ability to pull out a stop when it mattered. Sarkic didn’t look flustered by the big occasion and managed to prove that wasn’t a flash in the pan performance.
His league debut against Celtic was extraordinary. The Villa stopper made a few good stops and kept a clean sheet against the Hoops. He even grabbed an assist as Livi beat Celtic 2-0, a first win for them over the Glasgow side.
From there Sarkic’s form really took off. Overall the keeper made 14 Premiership appearances, keeping an impressive six clean sheets. Following the act of Liam Kelly was always going to be difficult but Sarkic has managed it pretty well.
A call-up and debut for national team Montenegro probably summed up how beneficial this loan has been for Sarkic. It’s gave him a big platform and Villa have clearly been impressed by what they’ve seen.
He’s got the potential to have a big career. Whilst he may not be the Villa number one in the immediate future, he’s shown the potential to fight for such an honour. Sarkic did that with Livi’s number one jersey.
The Villa keeper had a tough act to follow after Kelly’s West Lothian heroics. Schofield’s got just as hard a challenge to emulate Sarkic now.