Express & Star

John McGinn: Aston Villa a "sleeping giant" we can awake

John McGinn believes Villa’s players will take the first step toward waking the “sleeping giant” if they succeed in taking the club back to Europe.

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Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool means victory over Europa League qualifiers Brighton next Sunday will secure Villa’s return to European competition for the first time since 2010.

McGinn is fully aware of what a major step that would be in Unai Emery’s rebuild and believes the head coach’s pedigree, coupled with European football, would make the club a more attractive proposition to potential signings.

He said: “It’s exciting, exciting for us, his experience in those situations.

“The other thing as well, players will want to sign and players will want to improve under him, players will see where the club is going.

“It’s such a brilliant place to be at the moment, it’s so positive. We could probably sell the ground twice over next week. It’s a passionate club, a kind of sleeping giant and hopefully next week we can start to waken up a wee bit.”

Jacob Ramsey’s first-half opener had Villa on course for a famous win at Anfield before Roberto Firmino’s late equaliser but the draw, coupled with Tottenham’s defeat to Brentford, means Villa’s fate is in their own hands.

McGinn is hungry to play in Europe after watching West Ham’s celebrations at reaching the Conference League final – the same competition Villa are aiming for.

“It motivates you because there’s a tint of jealousy,” he said. “You want to be involved. The manager has touched on it, he has a lot of experience of European football, I’m sure everyone involved in the club will be so focused this week to make sure that’s a reality.

McGinn added: “It (Europe) has been the aim since day one. The owners have had a remit to get us back playing European football.

“If you’d said to us back in November you’d be three points away then you’d have laughed. We have got three points to get to get us back.

“This club deserves to be in the top 10, we’ve managed to secure that for the first time in a long, long while. Now it’s about building, getting into Europe hopefully and build from there.”