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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith must start John McGinn against Birmingham City

Aston Villa travel to Birmingham City this weekend with both teams still holding outside chances of reaching the Championship play-offs.

Villa thrashed Derby County 4-0 last week to offer hope that they can finish with a flourish.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Dean Smith has struggled to oversee any real consistency since his appointment and will hope for a run of positive results.

This weekend, the Villans boss is faced with a dilemma.

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John McGinn returns this week having missed two games through suspension.

Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan and the returning Jack Grealish were all in fine form last week, leaving Smith with plenty to ponder.

The Villa boss knows he has a tough task and a tweet highlighted a quote of his from the press conference, which said: 

Smith must refrain from leaving McGinn out.

Since arriving from Hibernian he has been arguably Villa’s best player, scoring two goals and contributing eight assists.

His creativity could be vital against a dogged Birmingham midfield.

The 24-year-old has a wand of a left foot and his presence in the Villa team could be the difference between winning and losing on Sunday.

Grealish has only recently returned from a long-term injury and seems the most likely to take a rest ahead of a tough run of fixtures.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The thought of him linking up with McGinn in the middle of the park is a mouthwatering proposition for Villa fans though.

Smith must be tempted to unleash the duo together in what looks like being a formidable midfield axis.

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