'Massive' - Exclusive: Pundit raves over 'Pivotal' Aston Villa 26-yr-old who started v Burnley

Noel Whelan has been left raving over the influence of Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings after seeing him miss the club’s last four Premier League matches.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, says that the 26-year-old’s leadership has proven invaluable at the back and that he was a significant miss while sidelined.

Having sat out the majority of December’s fixtures with a hamstring injury, Mings returned the starting XI against Burnley, playing as part of a back three alongside Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause.

Whelan says that the Villans needed to get Mings back playing as soon as possible and that his return should make a big difference at the back.

“They were definitely missing Mings, no doubt about that,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“That leadership at the back, that kind of big, strong mentality of player. He would have been welcomed back as quickly as possible because he was a huge loss. 

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“He needed to be back as quickly as possible. It’s leadership, it’s in the changing room, it’s on the training ground and it’s on the field. That’s why he’s an England international now, that’s why he’s part of that setup.

“Gareth Southgate sees it, the players respect him, he’s a voice. He’s probably the one leader out there that has a say on every single player and you wouldn’t answer him back.

“He demands from people and when you’re missing a big, pivotal player like that, it’s a massive loss. It’s your captain, it’s your leader, I know he’s not wearing the armband but he’s probably more of a voice than Jack Grealish is out there.”

Villa only managed to win one of the four Premier League games that Mings missed over December, conceding three goals to both Watford and Southampton without him at the back.

In other Aston Villa news, Alan Hutton claims the club could pull off a “great signing” with a red-hot forward linked with a move to Villa Park.