Dean Smith says he has used the suspended John McGinn at left-back in training

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has admitted via The Birmingham Mail that he has used suspended midfielder John McGinn at left-back in training this week, because of the number of options he has in the centre of the park ahead of the trip to Stoke City on Saturday.

What’s the word, then?

Well, McGinn has established himself as a key player for the Midlands outfit following his move to Villa Park last summer, but he will miss the clash against the Potters and the subsequent fixture against Derby County after picking up his 10th booking of the campaign against West Bromwich Albion last time out.

His absence gives the likes of Glenn Whelan, Mile Jedinak and Birkir Bjarnason to stake a claim for a spot in the starting XI, and Smith has admitted that he has played the former Hibernian man out of position as result.

The 47-year-old told The Birmingham Mail: “I’ve even been putting John at left-back in training this week! He’s missing for two games so I haven’t needed him in central midfield in training.”

Could he do a job there in future?

The 24-year-old probably could with Neil Taylor hardly pulling up any trees in recent times, but McGinn should only ever play there if it is a necessity.

The Scotland international has become such an integral player in the middle that he needs to be there whenever he is available, given the drive, quality and commitment he brings to the position and the team in general.

Villa will be looking for some momentum in the coming weeks for a promotion push either this season or next, and having McGinn in his best position is key to those aims.