By Alan Hutton

4th Mar, 2020 | 4:20pm

'Everybody knows' - Exclusive: Alan Hutton names Villa players he claims are facing axe

Alan Hutton insists that one of the Aston Villa midfielders is facing the axe over the coming weeks as John McGinn closes in on a return to fitness.

The former Villa and Scotland star, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor, says that the 25-year-old is almost guaranteed to make an immediate return to the starting XI when fit.

Manager Dean Smith has had McGinn missing for two months, the likes of Marvelous Nakamba, Danny Drinkwater, Douglas Luiz and Conor Hourihane playing in his absence.

With the Villa boss revealing the Scottish international is closing in on a return to action, Hutton insists his former teammate will be straight into the side at someone’s expense.

“Look, I think it’s one of those ones when your top players are fit, they play,” Hutton told Football Insider.

“I think he comes straight back in, as soon as the manager thinks he’s ready to play, he’ll play, I think he gives so much and that is no disrespect to anybody else who’s playing.

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“Whether it be Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba, Conor Hourihane – whoever comes in and plays, everybody knows as soon as he’s fit, he gives so much to the team that when he’s fit he has to play.” 

McGinn played 20 times for Villa, featuring in every minute of their Premier League campaign, before picking up a broken ankle back in December.

Douglas Luiz has picked up the most minutes out of any of the Villans’ central midfielders this season, playing 31 times across all competitions.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be revealed that Manchester City have set their sights on signing a Villa forward.