Ron Vlaar reckons Brad Guzan’s heroics between the sticks are inspiring his team-mates to raise their game during Aston Villa’s relegation run-in in the Premier League.

Guzan’s gallant displays have given Villa a fighting chance of avoiding the drop and captain Vlaar has been quick to express his gratitutde.

The skipper admits Guzan has been outstanding this season and his team-mates have been quick to echo those sentiments.

Vlaar also loves playing with the American stopper because the goalkeeper makes his job as leader of the team a lot easier.

“Brad is an important player for us and he has made great saves this season,” said Vlaar.

“He’s been doing that all season for us. It all starts with the keeper and he’s doing great for us.

“He made a great save in the first minute against Reading, which was crucial. He was great.

“He is also very vocal and I like that. His voice is very loud and you know he’s there. That’s what I like because it keeps you alert.

“Of course it can help to make my job as captain a bit easier because he is also 28 and has experience.

“It’s very important to have that because we still have a young team.

“That won’t change in a season and I am very happy with him shouting behind me.’’

Guzan put in another commanding display against Reading last weekend and will need to be at his best to thwart QPR on Saturday.

Despite conceding 50 goals so far this season he has been one of Villa’s star performers and without him in goal that figure would be even higher.

The 28-year-old is even been tipped to make it into the Premier League team of the year due to the high standard he has set.

When asked if he thought Guzan deserved a place in the elite team, boss Paul Lambert replied: “I’m not sure – I’ll leave that to other people to decide if they think that.

“From my own point of view he’s been absolutely collosal for the football club.

“I wouldn’t swap him. He’s a really good guy as well, which is important, he’s always bubbly and is a good character.”

Lambert took the risky decision to drop Shay Given earlier this season and make Guzan his No.1 and it has worked.

“I think Brad this season has been exceptional,” added Lambert. “I know Shay Given was terrific for us in the cup. It’s been a big call that because there’s nothing in it. The two of them are top-class goalkeepers.

“Guzan since the start of the season has been fantastic for us but you’ve also got to give Shay a lot of credit for what he’s done and the way he’s kept him in the No.1 spot really.

“His first game was against Newcastle and he was excellent up there.

“I think some of it is down to the fact Shay is pushing him as well.

“He’s made some massive saves for us in big moments and he’s been a credit to the club. To have a good goalkeeper is vital and fortunately this club has got two top goalkeepers.”