By George Sessions, PA
John McGinn insists Aston Villa remain determined to finish their Premier League campaign strongly despite the prospect of the European Championship looming for a number of the squad.
The Scotland midfielder is one of several who is expected take part in the Euros this summer, with England internationals Tyrone Mings, Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins also hopeful of being involved in the tournament.
Mings missed Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace with a knock while captain Grealish only played 26 minutes as he looks to build up fitness following a three-month absence with a shin injury.
While 11th-placed Villa now have little to play for and the Euros are on the horizon, McGinn is adamant the focus at the club has not switched to international football yet.
“I’m just focusing on trying to finish top half this season,” he told Sky Sports.
“We’re all really disappointed. A lot of us have stuff to look forward to in the summer but we want to finish the season well.”
McGinn captained Villa at Selhurst Park and opened the scoring with an exquisite finish after 17 minutes for his third goal of the campaign.
It equalled his tally from last season, but he has also netted on three occasions for Scotland over the past year.
The 26-year-old admitted: “I should be getting more goals. When I play for the national team I do that more often. I played higher up in the first half, but it wasn’t enough to get three points.”
Anwar El Ghazi put Villa 2-1 up at the break, but two goals in the final 14 minutes earned Palace all three points.
Boss Dean Smith introduced Grealish in the 64th minute, but it failed to prevent the hosts taking control of the second half before they made their dominance count late on.
“We need to become more street-wise and defend our goal better,” McGinn added.
“They deserved it in the second half. We had control of the game and scored two good goals. We needed to build on that but the second half wasn’t the standards we have set this season so we need to look at it.”
Christian Benteke was able to haunt his old club with a first-half header, which made it goals in three consecutive games and took his tally for the term to nine for Palace.
The Belgian had failed to even reach that total during the previous three seasons combined, but has been given a run of games under Roy Hodgson this campaign and continues to deliver for his manager.
Late efforts from Wilfried Zaha and Tyrick Mitchell ensured Benteke’s 32nd-minute header contributed towards a win.
He told Premier League Productions: “It’s credit to the manager for giving me the chance and also to me because I always believe in myself and in my abilities.
“I am really happy to play every week. I’m also giving the confidence back to the manager, so it’s good for me and it’s good for the team.”