Manchester United chief Ed Woodward with Sir Alex Ferguson

Kevin Phillips has claimed Sir Alex Ferguson has told Man United to sign Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-England striker and former Premier League coach raved about the “massive” impact the midfielder has made since joining the Midlands giants.

McGinn is currently out with a fractured ankle sustained during a devastating spell in and around the festive period during which Villa also lost key men Tom Heaton and Wesley to injuries that will sideline them for the rest of the season.

Phillips is in no doubt about the influence of the left-footed central midfielder, 25, who has been linked with a £50million move to Man United.

Asked by Football Insider if McGinn has been sorely missed by Villa during his absence, Phillips said: “Yeah, he’s a huge miss. You don’t get Alex Ferguson telling United to go and sign someone if you’re not a good player.

“I think he’s a massive loss. Again, Heaton out, Wesley out, McGinn – these things happen to you when you’re at the bottom of the league, unfortunately, but I think the positive for Dean Smith is he signed enough players in the summer to try and cope with it.

“John McGinn, when you lose one of your best players, if not your best player apart from Grealish, it’s going to hurt you.”

McGinn has been a driving force from midfield for Villa since his arrival from Hibernian in the summer of 2018 for a bargain £3million.

In 65 appearances for the club, the Scotland international has scored 11 goals and provided 12 assists.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that north-east big hitters have set their sights on signing senior man after contract opening.