Date: 23rd November 2018 at 10:05pm
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Dean Smith is leaving it late before making a decision on John McGinn, with the Aston Villa midfielder currently recovering from a muscle strain. The Scotland international picked up a knock on international duty and has been touch and go to face Birmingham City on Sunday.

There was no definitive answer given in Villa’s pre-match press conference, with Smith admitting the “very good player” will be given longer to be passed fit due to his quality.

In quotes reported by the Express and Star, Smith said: “John is a very good player and that’s why we’ll give him as much time as we can. We want to give John longer. A grade one muscle strain can be a four-day problem or a four-week one. It depends on the body as all players are different.”

McGinn has been outstanding this season, scoring and creating 10 goals in 19 games in all competitions since his move from Hibernian over the summer. The 24-year-old has been indispensable for Smith, breaking up the play, showcasing good creativity in possession and having an eye for goal on occasion. He’d be a big loss to Villa on Sunday.

The Midlands outfit are currently 11th in the Championship with 24 points from 17 games this season, coming off the back of three wins from their previous five. Villa could be on the cusp of a playoff place if they beat Birmingham, but the Blues won’t be slouches given their recent form.

City are one place below Villa in the table, but the two sides are level on points. Birmingham have won four and drawn one of their last six games and boast two wins and a draw from their previous four. Without McGinn, Birmingham may have a greater chance of victory at Villa Park, so Smith is biding his time and hopes he’ll be able to feature.

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Aston Villa man ruled out against Birmingham, says ‘surgery went well’ on groin injury

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