John McGinn admits the latest international break couldn’t be more timely as far as he is concerned. The resumption of Scotland’s Uefa Nations League campaign in Israel later this week will provide the midfielder with some respite from a turbulent start to his career as an Aston Villa player.
When McGinn returns to the English Championship club next week, he may be reporting for duty under a newly-appointed manager if Villa can conclude their search for Steve Bruce’s replacement.
The sacking of the man who signed him from Hibs on transfer deadline day this summer came as a disappointment to McGinn but the 23-year-old is as curious as anyone to discover which of the high profile potential candidates for the job is recruited.
With the list of names including that of Brendan Rodgers, who missed out on taking him to Celtic, there is additional intrigue in the process for McGinn.
“It’s ironic, isn’t it?,” smiled McGinn. “You never know what’s going to happen. But I think Brendan came out the other day and said he’s happy at Celtic, he’s got a job to do.
“So it would be unfair for me to comment on that too much and fuel the rumours. What will be will be. If it is Brendan Rodgers or if it is somebody else, I’ll soon see. Hopefully, whoever comes in, I’ll be able to impress them.
“The international break has come at a good time for me, in that sense. Hopefully I get a couple of games for Scotland, go back and have a new manager to settle in with.
“It’s never easy when a manager is sacked and, obviously, Steve Bruce was the manager who signed me. I’ve got a lot to thank him for and he was fantastic for me.
“But it’s football. It happens. It’s just never nice to see him and his staff lose their jobs. As a player, you’ve just got to try to focus on working hard, try to impress the new manager when he comes in.
“There have been a few interesting names linked with the job. At every club, there is always this merry-go-round, everyone thinks somebody else has got it. You’ve just got to wait and trust that the club are doing the right things.
“Whoever comes in, hopefully I can manage to impress them and keep my place in the team.”
McGinn is quickly coming to terms with the size of the club he has joined and appreciates the demands of a support who believe Villa should be in the Premier League.
“When you go down and see the place, it’s an eye opener,” he added. “It’s a club that deserves to be in the top half of the top flight, a massive club and that means it’s very demanding.
“Whoever comes in, it doesn’t matter how big a name they are. If they’re not getting results, there will be pressure. You feel it as a player. It’s something you should thrive on, playing at a big club.
“Obviously it’s exciting that the club is attracting big names but it comes with the territory. You’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to produce.”
While results have failed to meet expectations, McGinn has personally made a positive early impression on the Villa fans – most notably with his spectacular and much talked about goal against Sheffield Wednesday.
“It was nice to score a goal like that but it didn’t help the team that day,” he said. “It was still a defeat and it started a negative run for us. So, as nice as it was to score a goal like that, I’d rather have had a win.”
As McGinn switches his focus to international duty, he hopes to avoid any repeat of the slips in possession he made during Scotland’s previous two games against Belgium and Albania. The first was punished by the concession of a goal in the 4-0 friendly defeat against the Belgians but McGinn emerged happier from the 2-0 Nations League win over Albania. “I nearly didn’t learn from it as I almost did it again in the Albania game,” he said. “I thought I did okay over the two games but it is a case of building and learning from it.
“I managed to make very few mistakes during Gordon Strachan’s time but the more you play, you have more chance you have of being involved in one. It just so happened it was a high profile one and it led to a goal. Even though I’m nearly 24, you are still learning all the time and you don’t receive the ball in those positions.
“It makes me think twice now, even at club level. I got one at the weekend and I took a touch and just booted it! I wasn’t going to get caught again. It wasn’t a nice feeling that night against Belgium but it made me even more determined to put in a good performance in the Albania game. Thankfully it went okay.
“It makes you more sympathetic to goalkeepers and defenders, that’s for sure. When you make a mistake like that you want the ground to swallow you up. You can either collapse and go under or puff your chest out and get on with it. That’s what I tried to do and it’s about trying limit the mistakes, while doing the right things.
“The manager here trusts the way I play and the way we are going to play going forward. We need to be comfortable on the ball but I am sure he’ll trust me again. When you make that kind of mistake you are the first to know, you don’t need the manager to tell you.”