The Chalkboard: Dean Smith must rest McGinn during promotion run in

Dropping John McGinn seems like a terrible idea on paper. Why on earth would you want to bin someone who’s scored six goals and contributed nine assists this season?

Well, with the Scot sitting on 13 yellow cards, there is a strong possibility of him facing a three-game suspension if he were to reach 15.

With four games left this season, it could prove telling. A 15th booking on the final day of the season would mean he’d have to miss every single one of Villa’s play-off matches if they got to the final.

The club isn’t mathematically guaranteed a spot there, but eight wins on the bounce have done wonders for their chances. However, their hopes of gaining promotion would take a considerable hit if McGinn was to end up suspended for three matches.

Key decision awaits

Villa’s final two games of the season aren’t kind as they face both Norwich and Leeds, the two teams who currently occupy the automatic promotion places.

However, by then the Midlands club will be hoping that their play-off spot is secured. The simple solution would be to see if McGinn reaches 14 bookings and then to rest him, but it would still be a risk either way.

The good news for Villa is that with Henri Lansbury now fully fit and Glenn Whelan playing tremendously well last weekend, they do at least have replacements lined up.

Given McGinn is more attacking, Lansbury would be the obvious man to come in. He offers a goal threat and you sense there is a bit of unfinished business considering he’s spent most of his time at Villa Park on the treatment table.

Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings both missed the win over Bristol City and their reintroductions will only boost their hopes should Smith take the decision to rest McGinn.

These four games obviously have slightly less significance than the play-offs themselves but when the time does indeed come, they’ll need their most talismanic individuals.

Smith must, therefore, do whatever it takes to ensure the 24-year-old isn’t suspended. The perfect replacement in Lansbury is waiting in the wings and this key switch must be made with the former Arsenal man now fit.

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