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Smith wants protection for ‘targeted’ McGinn

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith believes John McGinn may require more protection from referees after being “targeted” during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Burnley.

Smith saw his side surrender another lead as they were twice pegged back by the visitors at Villa Park, where Chris Wood’s late header earned Burnley a point.

McGinn had scored his third goal of the season moments earlier, having seen a first-half effort chalked off by VAR.

Anwar El Ghazi gave Villa the half-time lead before Burnley substitute Jay Rodriguez netted the initial equaliser with his first Premier League goal since April 2018.

But it was Scotland international McGinn who once again shone in the Villa line-up, and Smith felt he was given a rough deal by the opposition.

“He’s excellent,” Smith said of the midfielder.

“He’s been consistently good with all of our performances, always looks like he’ll score goals, scored two today but had one disallowed.

“He’s all action, gets in the opposition box and scores goals, he wins free-kicks, but today, for me, he wasn’t protected.

“He won’t mind a rough and tumble tackle as long as it’s a fair one, but there were too many that were unfair. They’ve targeted him because he’s one of our better players, that’s for sure.

“He was outstanding. How they came through that first half without a yellow card on McGinn was beyond me.

“It was almost like a tag team on him. He’ll have a few bruises, that’s for sure.”

For Burnley, the point means they are unbeaten in their last three away games and Rodriguez believes coming from behind twice proves the Clarets squad has battling qualities.

“That’s the character the lads show,” he told the club’s official website.

“It’s one thing I’ve definitely noticed since coming here – the willingness to grind it out and stick together, which is really important. They never give up.

“The work the lads put in and the competitiveness, just in training, is really strong and something that’s good to be a part of.

“We wanted to push on again to get the win. Towards the end it was end-to-end and probably an exciting game for the neutral.

“We could have nicked it, but I think it was fair enough and it was a good point, but Villa are a good side and I think it’s a good result.”