By Dan Carter

20th Nov, 2023 | 1:10pm

Unai Emery may be without John McGinn after Aston Villa star forced off during int'l duty

Few Aston Villa supporters could have asked for a better start to the season, with Unai Emery’s side sitting fifth in the Premier League and impressing in the Europa Conference League.

An integral part of Villa’s impressive start to the campaign has been the superb form of John McGinn who has been an ever-present at the heart of Emery’s midfield both in the Premier League and Europe in the early stages of the campaign.

The same has been true for Scotland, with the 29-year-old starting both of Steve Clarke’s side’s matches in the November international break, including a man of the match display at Hampden Park against Norway.

Deployed in an attacking midfield role, the Scotsman picked up a goal and assist as he scored his 17th international goal with a first-half penalty, but the Villa man’s performance was about so much more than just his final product.

McGinn was a creative force for Clarke’s side as he created two chances for his teammates, with three passes into the final third and two key passes as he looked to drive Scotland towards the Norwegian goal and feed Jacob Brown who was leading the line [Sofascore].

The Villa midfielder didn’t see loads of the ball at Hampden, only registering 40 touches in the game and his passing was slightly wayward, only completing 77.8 per cent of his 27 attempted passes.

Only one of the 29-year-old’s four attempted crosses managed to find a teammate in the penalty area, but he was incredibly accurate when passing over a longer range as he found a teammate’s feet with two of his three long passes.

On the ball, McGinn completed the only dribble that he attempted against Norway, but his only shot in his 79 minutes of action was from the penalty spot which left Egil Selvik with no chance between the posts.

As Aston Villa supporters have come to expect, the midfielder went about his defensive duties with immense energy, winning five of the seven ground duels he contested both in the air and on the ground as he didn’t give the Norway midfield a chance to breathe.

The 29-year-old won his only tackle in the match and made two ball recoveries, only committing one foul. He even managed to win his side two free-kicks as he was fouled twice in the match.

What will have worried both Villa supporters and Emery was the fact that McGinn hobbled off the field after 79 minutes with an injury having appeared to pick up a knock in a collision with Mohamed Elyounoussi and he wasn’t able to continue.

It is unknown how long McGinn could be sidelined, if at all, but given how early in the season we are, the midfielder has already played an incredible amount of minutes. McGinn has featured in 1020 minutes of Premier League action this season, only missing 60 minutes of the opening 12 games of the campaign [Fotmob].

Whenever the Scotsman is fit, Emery wants to start him, but should this injury be more serious than initially feared, he may well have to rotate his captain out of his starting XI for the first time this season against Tottenham.

Luckily, there is plenty of strength in depth at Villa Park, especially in the attacking midfield areas and McGinn’s pain may be another player’s gain with the likes of Leon Bailey and Nicolo Zaniolo waiting patiently in the wings.

In other Aston Villa news, Boubacar Kamara may be undroppable at Villa Park after his faultless international display