Dean Smith backs John McGinn to be Aston Villa’s Bryan Robson

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Dean Smith reckons John McGinn has the potential to be Villa’s version of Bryan Robson.

Brighton and Hove Albion's Martin Montoya (right) fouls Aston Villa's John McGinn

The Scotland midfielder, a key component of the team which won promotion last season, has enjoyed a superb start to life in the Premier League and is currently the club’s second top scorer with three goals.

McGinn has earned rave reviews for his all-action displays which Smith has likened to those produced by Albion hero Robson. The latter scored 46 goals in 252 appearances for the Baggies before going on to captain Manchester United for more than a decade.

Smith said: “It’s hard to liken John to somebody, but when I was growing up one of the best players was Bryan Robson.

“He could bustle, tackle, score and create – John’s nowhere near that level yet but that’s the way he’s heading as long as he keeps progressing the way he is. He would probably rather me give a Scotsman as a comparison!”

The boss continued: “He’s well liked in the dressing room, he’s got a bit of banter about him. He goes out and trains hard, doesn’t train well every time, but trains hard. When he goes out and plays it’s almost like it’s his last game.”

McGinn, who scored what proved to be the winner as Villa beat Derby to clinch promotion in last season’s play-off final, is gaining no shortage of admirers, but Smith is unfazed by the prospect of increased speculation over his future.

The 25-year-old signed a five-year contract in the summer at a club who, with the backing of billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, have big ambitions themselves.

“Our job is to improve players in order to improve our team,” says Smith.


“By him getting better, if it attracts suitors then so be it. There’s nothing you can do to stop that. In fact you encourage it because we’re ambitious here at Aston Villa, we’ve got two owners who are looking to the future and want to keep the best players that we’ve got. We’re not a club that wants to sell. We want to keep improving as a team and we’ve got owners, thankfully, that want to do that.”

Midfield ace Marvelous Nakamba has warned Villa shouldn’t bank on facing a weary Wolves this Sunday. The clash at Molineux is the seventh match in 23 days for the hosts, whose season began back in July with the Europa League qualifiers.

Nakamba knows all about juggling domestic and European ambitions having played in the Champions League with Club Brugge, before his £11million summer switch to England.

The 25-year-old believes Villa will have to be at their best if they are to get a result.


He said: “From my experience football is all about what happens on the day.

“We just need to concentrate on ourselves, train hard ourselves and not worry about what is going on there (with Wolves), who they have to play before or anything like that.

“We just need to concentrate on ourselves and give everything we can.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.


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