By Graham Hill
JOHN McGinn admits there was a time when he wondered if he would make it at Aston Villa.
And when Steve Bruce was sacked, the Scot feared for his future at the club.
But now he is heading for Wembley as Villa’s player of the year and a firm fans’ favourite.
He could end the season as a Premier League player.
But whatever happens, McGinn says he has progressed in leaps and bounds since joining the club for a bargain £2.7million from Hibernian.
He told reporters: “When I signed I didn’t expect to be in right away.
“The manager, Steve Bruce, made me aware there were a lot of top midfield players here and that I had to prove myself.
“My first couple of days, weren’t great. In training I thought: ‘I don’t know if I can compete here’.
“But the manager had the confidence to fling me in against Wigan and it went from there.”
McGinn then saw Bruce sacked and wondered what would happen now that the man who signed him had left.
He added: “Obviously people will have their own opinions but I was worried. I thought: ‘Is the new guy going to like me?’
“I was intrigued and waiting to see what was to come when Dean Smith arrived.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and anxious to see if I was his kind of player.
“My position changed slightly when he came in, I played a little bit higher up and after a couple of weeks he pulled me and said: ‘I don’t think you realise how good you can be’ which was great to hear from a new manager.
“He said he was the first to admit he didn’t know a lot about me but assured me that I would be a big part of his plans. That was brilliant for me to hear that from him.”