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McGinn making positive progress – Aston Villa boss Smith

Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn is making positive progress in his return from injury, according to manager Dean Smith.

The Scot has been sidelined since suffering a fractured ankle during the home Premier League defeat to Southampton on December 21.

McGinn’s rehabilitation has been going well and he is set to train on grass for the first time this weekend as he steps close to a return to action.

“John McGinn has been running on the AlterG (zero-gravity treadmill) at 85 per cent body weight,” said Smith ahead of the reverse fixture against Saints on Saturday.

“He’s looking to be running on the grass come the weekend. His return will be looked at day-by-day to see how he continues his rehabilitation.”

Elsewhere, there was also good news regarding Tyrone Mings. The defender missed the defeat to Tottenham with tonsillitis but he has resumed training and he is expected to be restored to the starting line up against Southampton.

Keinan Davis, meanwhile, will start training on Monday following his hamstring problem.

“No, he’s fine,” Smith said of Mings. “He had a touch of tonsillitis and was back training on Wednesday. It’s been unfortunate. He’s been a big player for us so, to miss him on Sunday, was difficult.

“He’ll be back ready for Southampton on Saturday. He’s got the qualities to be a real leader and he’s still growing into that role.”

Smith was asked about the mood within the squad following the heartbreaking defeat to Spurs, who won the match 3-2 thanks to an injury-time strike by Son Heung-min following a defensive mistake by Bjorn Engels.

“I think the manner of which it came about makes it difficult,” said Smith. “We played ever so well, certainly the first 30, 40, 45 minutes then, to make a big mistake and to concede in the dying minutes, it’s always difficult.

“As I said, we’d been on the winning side of games in the last minute at Villa Park before. As disappointing as it is, you move on. We can take a lot of heart from the performance from the game. We came in the following day and did our debrief and knew what we had to work on to improve.

“The (winter) break has done us well. It showed the way we came out of the traps against Spurs, going right at a team who are going for the top-four.”