Former Premier League footballer Jamie O’Hara thinks Aston Villa are in for a ‘tough’ second half of the campaign after losing John McGinn to injury and being beaten by relegation rivals Southampton last weekend.
Southampton leapfrogged Villa out of the drop zone following their commanding victory at Villa Park, while midfielder McGinn was substituted early on in the tie after fracturing his ankle – an injury that could see him out for three months.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, O’Hara worries that McGinn’s absence and Villa’s subsequent over-reliance on Jack Grealish – who pulled one back for the hosts on Saturday – could consign the club to a brutal fight against demotion to the second tier.
He said: “It’s a killer for Villa, it really is. They’re in trouble now. They’ve dropped into the bottom three, and I’d thought they’d started to get some results and started to look good.
“Losing McGinn is a massive, massive loss because now they’re solely dependent on Jack Grealish, who’s different class for them – he’s their standout performer week-in, week-out. But it’s going to be a tough one, now.”
O’Hara’s concerns with regards to Grealish are no surprise – especially after manager Dean Smith expressed a similar view in his post-match press conference.
Grealish leads both Villa’s goals and assists charts in the league this season, while only Anwar El Ghazi has a level of goal contribution which tops the injured McGinn’s apart from the Villans talisman.
According to WhoScored, Grealish and McGinn are Villa’s two best performers in the league, with the latter’s absence set to end his run of consecutive appearances since the very start of the campaign.
That suggests he is indeed key to the club’s fortunes and having dropped into the bottom three ahead of the festive programme, it seems Villa will need a solution in order to profit while McGinn recovers.
The fact that O’Hara could not suggest one of his own hardly bodes well for the Midlands side, though it seems that their Premier League status could depend on overcoming the Scot’s injury misery by asking players other than Grealish to step up.
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