West Brom’s midfielders will not be able to cope with “brilliant” Aston Villa counterpart John McGinn during their play-off semi-final, according to Noel Whelan.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United striker and Championship expert is convinced Villa’s all-round quality gives them the edge of their Midlands rivals in the two-legged showdown.
Whelan pinpointed the midfield area as one where Dean Smith’s side will gain the upper hand against West Brom’s less refined operators.
“I know there is a lot of experience in the West Brom midfield, with the likes of Jake Livermore, Chris Brunt and Stefan Johansen, but I look at the Villa three – McGinn, Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish – and they have more legs, energy and quality that the three West Brom midfielders.
“I know Rekeem Harper has made an impact and he may start the play-off games, but Villa look sharper and fitter in that area. They are physical as well.
“McGinn is a brilliant player and has everything you want in a Championship midfielder – tenacious, creative, scores goals, can pick a pass. Any team in the division would want him. I think West Brom will be smashed in midfield if McGinn plays like he has been.”
McGinn has been a mainstay of the Villa side that secured a play-off spot following an outstanding 10-match winning run broken only by a draw in their explosive 1-1 draw against Leeds.
The 2018 signing from Hibernian was omitted from last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Norwich City as Smith rested his big guns, but has scored eight goals and supplied 12 assists from 45 matches in all competitions this season.
In other Aston Villa news, the club’s coaching staff have told one of their defenders to find a new club.