John McGinn: Aston Villa's confidence soaring after beating Bristol City without Jack Grealish
John McGinn reckons Villa’s already soaring confidence levels have been boosted further by proving they are no one-man team after beating Bristol City without skipper Jack Grealish.
Saturday’s 2-1 win, the eighth in a row for Dean Smith’s team, was achieved in the absence of Grealish who missed the game through illness.
The 23-year-old had sparked their surge up the table after returning from injury early last month.
But midfield ace McGinn said: “Jack is the best player in the league and there is no doubt he has inspired the run we are on.
“In his absence the confidence he has given the rest of the lads has carried on.
“It is a massive victory, for the fact it gives everyone a confidence boost to show we are not a one-man team, even though we really missed him.
“Hopefully he can come back next week but it is a confidence boost for the lads to show we can do it without him.”
Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane scored the goals as Villa equalled their best winning run since 1975, with Famara Diedhiou netting what proved to be only a consolation for the visitors.
Victory also strengthened their hold on fifth place in the table ahead of an Easter weekend double-header against Bolton and Millwall.
Villa first travel to face the Trotters, who sit nine points from safety, on Friday afternoon.
“If you’d asked us a couple of months ago whether we’d be in the play-off spots, we’d have laughed at you," said McGinn.
“But we’ve shown great form and now we’re in there.
“It’s a big opportunity. We have put ourselves in the driving seat and it is up to us. We just need to focus on Bolton now.
“If we get the three points there we will be in pole position. We’ll spend the week getting ready and hopefully we can be really at it on Friday.”
Grealish is expected to return against Bolton, while Villa will also have Tyrone Mings back available following suspension.
Jonathan Kodjia has undergone a scan on the rib injury which kept him out of Saturday’s game.