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Aston Villa v Middlesbrough: Villans a threat to anyone

Midfield ace John McGinn reckons Villa are becoming the team everyone wants to avoid as they look to strike another big blow in the play-off race tomorrow.

John McGinn scored twice at Forest (Dave Birt)
John McGinn scored twice at Forest (Dave Birt)

Dean Smith’s men host Middlesbrough knowing victory would see them leap back into the top six for the first time since September 1.

It would also see them close within a point of the fifth-placed visitors, continuing a remarkable turnaround which has brought Villa roaring back into contention.

Wins earlier in the week over Blues and Nottingham Forest have seen Villa overtake both in the table, with Smith admitting his team seemed to have their attacking swagger back after Wednesday’s 3-1 win at the City Ground. McGinn agrees.

He said: “We now look a team with such attacking intent. I am sure no-one will want to play us at the minute.

“This league is crazy. Three wins on the bounce can take you up four or five places.

“Everyone wants that last play-off spot and I think now, if we can carry this on, there is no reason we can’t get in there.”

McGinn, who doubled his tally for the season to four after bagging a first-half brace, believes the confidence which coursed through the team in November and early December has returned.

“There was a spell when we had the belief that whatever happened in the game, went against us, we always had the belief we could come back and score,” he said.

“I think the same happened on Wednesday. Nobody panicked, Tyrone (Mings) and Kortney (Hause) were excellent at the back, we created great chances and in the end it was a great result.

“We can’t look too far ahead. The reason we are in this position is because we are working harder, believing in ourselves more and playing like an Aston Villa team.

“If we can take the game to opponents like we did at Forest, starting on Saturday, then we will have a right chance.”

While Villa are finding momentum, Boro are suddenly looking over their shoulders after a return of just one point from their last three games.

Yet they also boast a handy recent record at Villa Park, having remained unbeaten on their last five league visits.

“It is a huge game,” said McGinn. “Middlesbrough will be looking over their shoulder a bit. Every time we are at home we need to perform and get a victory.”

Likely line-up:

Likely line-up

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