Date: 27th April 2019 at 12:33pm
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EXCLUSIVE

Conor Hourihane is a “brilliant” player who did not deserve to be an Aston Villa scapegoat when they were struggling, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the pundit explained he is a big admirer of the Republic of Ireland international, 28, and doesn’t understand why he is often a target for the boo boys.

Hourihane was the subject of widespread criticism from Villa fans on social media up until the team’s remarkable run of 10 consecutive wins.

The central midfielder has been a mainstay of the transformation, making 31 starts among his 41 league appearances this season, which have yielded eight goals and 11 assists.

“He’s a brilliant player, I’ve no idea why the fans don’t rate him” Whelan told Football Insider. “Villa have quality in abundance and most of their players would walk into every side in the Championship.

“Hourihane gets picked every week because he’s a top player. He scores and creates goals, is box to box, can put his fit it and see a pass. He’s not flashy, he’s just very good.”

Whelan is in contention to start for Villa in their Championship clash against Leeds United on Sunday.

Villa have already cemented a play-off spot and are looking to maintain the momentum of their winning streak going into the end-of-season play-offs.

In other Aston Villa news, Whelan names the one Championship outfit Premier League clubs want in the top flight next season, calling it a “no-brainer”.