Alex McLeish has questioned whether Anwar El Ghazi has the motivation to be a regular starter for Aston Villa.

The former Villa boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 26-year-old was starting to establish himself as a “super-sub” under Dean Smith.

As revealed by Football Insider, Villa have pulled the plug on letting El Ghazi leave this summer after Trezeguet’s crushing injury blow.

It is understood the Villans were open to offers for the Dutch winger this summer but have pulled a U-turn after Trezeguet was ruled out for a year.

El Ghazi has started and scored in Villa’s last two Premier League games against West Brom and Everton.

However, McLeish suggested he may prefer playing against tired opposition as a substitute.

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McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “He’s an interesting player. I always feel that when he comes on, he can make a difference. You see the total enthusiasm.

“They used to call players in the past that haven’t been real starters for the club super-subs. Ole Solskjaer was the same at Manchester United. He was the king of super-subs, scoring in the European final.

“You get that kind of feeling when a player like El Ghazi runs on. You’re thinking: ‘Well, what a great substitution.’ It’s strange he doesn’t start as much. Obviously, there’s a reason for it.

“Maybe a motivational reason, maybe he likes to get on the pitch when the opposition’s a wee bit tired and he needs to inspire his team. He’s done that a couple of times.” 

El Ghazi has started 12 times in 23 league appearances for Villa this season.

With Trezeguet out, Smith has also used Bertrand Traore, Keinan Davis and Jacob Ramsey out wide.

In other news, Aston Villa plotting £40million raid for Premier League star.