By Phil Jennings
TYRONE Mings has denied he is an injury prone player as he prepares for a game which could earn him a permanent move to Villa Park.
Mings has been one of the revelations of the second half of the season after making a deadline day loan move from Bournemouth.
He arrived as a player who supposedly needed to prove himself after an injury-hit spell on the south coast.
But there has been barely a hint of Mings missing a game at Villa other than a suspension and being rested on the final day of the regular season.
And the player is keen to get rid of the unwanted reputation.
He suffered a serious knee injury in his first Premier League appearance and then missed seven months with a back problem.
Now Mings will hope to earn Villa a return back to the top flight with victory over Derby on Monday.
And early talks over a permanent move have already taken place.
Mings told reporters: “I’ve never been injury-prone. I had a seven-week back injury at Bournemouth and was out for seven months.
“Read into that what you want. I have never pulled a muscle and I don’t see myself as a person who needs to try and stay fit.
“I just need to play games and you can never replicate that in training. I was in a position where I needed to play games and I needed people to see me at centre-back.
“Being unable to play for so long isn’t where you want to be as a footballer.
“And if you are not playing for long periods of time, your career is only going to go one way.
“I needed to come out of Bournemouth, if I wasn’t going to get an opportunity there, and show people what I could do.
“I don’t think it has revived my career, it has probably just refreshed it. I am on a path at the moment where I am feeling good. Hopefully we can all taste some success on Monday.”
Mings has long maintained that his move to Villa could not have gone any better
He added: “It’s been very good to this point and it’ll have been perfect if we get promoted.
“It’s been everything that any loan player could want. Going into a new club is never easy.
“But the players, the fans, the manager, have really welcomed me with open arms.
“In my first interview with the club, they asked me what to expect from Tyrone the player, and I said that I would leave everything on the pitch and play with my heart on my sleeve.
“I think if you do that as a player, whether you’re on loan or permanent, the fans can really take to that and get behind you.
“That’s all they want – they want a player to play for the shirt and to play for the badge.
“I’ve been a fan. I’ve supported teams. Often when fans get a little bit frustrated is if they feel you’re not working hard. The loan move for me at the moment has been everything I could have asked for.”
Mings underlined his work behind the scenes with John Terry has been priceless.
The Villa defender added: “He’s a centre-back that a lot of people would put in their all-time Premier League XI.
“Obviously when I knew that there was a chance I could come here and learn from someone like that, in my position, it was an opportunity I couldn’t really turn down.
“We sit down after my games and go through clips and work out on the training pitch together, so he’s been a big help in helping me improve my positioning and decision-making at centre-back, so that’s probably what I’ve learned.
“We sit down after games and that period then is when I can learn the most I think.
“He can’t obviously help during the game, so anything away from the game, any little tips or hints he can give me on what he would have done, or what previous managers would have taught him is obviously invaluable.”
Mings revealed his post-match celebrations at the Villa end after the semi-final win at Albion was because he wanted to see his dad.
He added: “My dad, Adie, was in there. So I went in to see him!
“I think beyond me jumping into the crowd, I have obviously made no secret of the fact I am really enjoying playing for these fans and this club.
“The semi-final was a great occasion for us and there should be no shame in celebrating getting to the final.
“People say you haven’t done anything yet but there are a lot of teams in this league who would love to be in this position. The celebrations were short lived. As soon as we got back here after the game we went our different ways and we are now focused on the job ahead.
“We’re under no illusions what a great occasion it will be and a lot of players were involved in it last year.
“It will be a terrible day if we lose, or a great day if we win. Hopefully we will come out the right side of it.”