'You could almost overlook smooth Konsa... Southgate didn't'

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Aston Villa expert view banner

Mike Taylor, BBC Radio WM

Good luck to Ezri Konsa after an England call-up that was, as any Aston Villa fan will tell you, not before time.

He probably didn’t clinch his place with his performance against Fulham on Sunday, smooth though it was. On second thoughts, perhaps that’s the point – he did all the tricky bits so well, and seemed so at ease, that you could almost overlook him. Gareth Southgate didn’t, and should Konsa’s first cap arrive in the coming days it will be due reward for his form.

The Fulham game had rather less suspense than the match against AZ Alkmaar and, once Villa had moved ahead, their fans could relax and enjoy it.

John McGinn stood out again. He was the man of the match - but really, he was the match, in that whenever anything of importance happened, McGinn seemed to be at the centre of it. Villa fed off his energy, but talking too much about his industry sometimes obscures his technique with the ball, demonstrated here by his sweet 20-yard drive for the second goal.

Perhaps of longer-term significance was Youri Tielemans’ deployment, starting for the first time in a Premier League game - and in a relatively advanced role, often peeling to the left. Such has been the standard of Villa’s midfield that Tielemans has largely been confined to European action so far, but he may play a greater part after this.

"The players have to be training hard every day," said Unai Emery of Tielemans, and others perhaps hopeful of more starting chances. "They have to be ready when the team need them to be on the pitch doing their work. He was one of the players who was waiting, and he was ready to play. It’s important, and a very good example."

Recent reports that Tielemans was unhappy with his situation at Villa were firmly denied - but he need not fret anyway. This season at Villa, more perhaps than for a generation, there will be enough work ahead to keep everyone in the squad busy.

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