McGinn: ‘Why Villa boss said no’

By Graham Hill

JOHN McGinn says the Play-off semi-final against West Brom was one of the most nerve-racking games he has ever played in – but he was still disappointed not to take a penalty.

Villa’s player of the year volunteered to take a spot-kick in the shoot-out but boss Dean Smith did not put him in the first five.

In the end, he was not needed thanks to keeper Jed Steer’s heroics and Tammy Abraham’s clincher.

McGinn told Scotland’s Sunday Post: “The play-off semi-final against West Brom was the most drained I’ve ever been after two games of football, and certainly the most nerve-racking two matches I’ve ever been involved in.

“We didn’t really show what we could do over the two legs. They sat in and made it tough for us.

“But if you’d have asked us beforehand, it didn’t matter how we were going to do it. Getting to Wembley was all that mattered.

Jed pulled off two great saves in the shoot-out, and it’s a dream come true for me to be involved in this game.

“I wasn’t happy in the shoot-out because I got a knock-back from the manager when I volunteered to hit a penalty.

“I was the classic number six!”

McGinn reckons Steer will definitely come under new Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s eye after his performances for Villa over the past three months following his recall from Charlton Athletic.

Former Villa coach Clarke was appointed as Scotland manager this week – and Steer qualifies for a call up.

McGinn added: “Jed got us to Wembley with his saves, and I believe he’s eligible for Scotland. I’ve been winding him up already, teaching him some Scottish slang!

“We brought him back from Charlton in January, and he’s been one of the big reasons why we’ve been so successful in the second half of the season.

“We haven’t looked back since and he’d be a great addition to the Scotland squad.

“We’ve already got some top keepers, but I’ve no doubt the new manager will be taking a look at Jed.

“I think Steve Clarke’s a terrific appointment for Scotland. He’s got fantastic experience down in England, where he worked at some top clubs.

“And the job he’s done at Kilmarnock has been incredible.

“So I’m really looking forward to working with him, starting with the two games next month. Hopefully I can play a big part in his squad and help us get to Euro 2020, which is what everyone wants.”

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