JOHN McGINN won’t forget his maiden Premier League season in a hurry. A goal after nine minutes in the first game away to Tottenham Hotspur. The devastating ankle fracture sustained just days before Christmas. The corona-enforced league shutdown just as he was nearing his comeback.

And now – midway through June – comes the coda to this strangest of campaigns. After a three-month gap, Aston Villa return to action on Wednesday night at home to Sheffield United, the first part of a 10-game sequence in which they will try desperately to save their skins from relegation.

Given they went into the break on the back of five consecutive defeats, manager Dean Smith will no doubt be hugely heartened to have McGinn once again available for selection.

The Scotland midfielder seems fairly excited about it, too. Most players would be slightly hesitant about returning to the maelstrom of battle after a broken leg but McGinn is not most players. You get everything or nothing from the 25 year-old and it will be the same again for the remainder of the season.

“I’m excited to get back in to doing what I’m used to,” he said. “The first part of the season was flying in and I was loving it.

“Every time I stepped out onto the pitch I couldn’t believe I was playing in the Premier League and that was how I was treating each game.

“I don’t regret how I got injured and, if the same situation happened, I would do the same thing. It was just unfortunate.

“If I start worrying about how I go into tackles or how I play, I won’t be playing in this league much longer. You get bitten up and spat out.

“Even though the ankle is now healed and is fine, I’ve been out of football a long time. That means I’ve been brought in and out of [training] sessions, but I’ve been stepped up to 100% now.

“The break has been good for us mentally. It has allowed all of us to realise the situation we are in and we have 10 games now to get ourselves out of it.”

Villa will be hoping McGinn will be able to regain the form he was showing before his injury. There are ups and downs in every player’s career journey but, ever since a poor individual season amid a collective car crash when St Mirren were relegated in 2015, McGinn’s worth has risen steadily every year since. Even in the self-proclaimed “greatest league in the world” he has not looked out of his depth.

“I am at the best place I can be to get better,” added the former Hibernian man. “Moving away from home to Edinburgh [in 2015], it's not that far, so you still have the pool of family and friends close.

“Whereas down here it's just me and my girlfriend, so you get the chance to work on your game more, spend more time at the training ground so I have everything there to help me progress. So it's easier jumping up the levels. You are more ready for it.

"You don't get the time to think about it either. It doesn't sink in when the games are coming thick and fast and that's what you have been used to for so long with big games for St Mirren or Hibs. They all feel the same to me. It has been nice to get experience of big games, whether at Hampden or elsewhere, and it just lets you settle into these atmospheres a lot more.”

McGinn has modelled his play on a Premier League stalwart, who he views as another “nuisance” on the pitch.

“Footballers always say you get more time the higher level you go,” he added. “I’m not sure if I believe that - you certainly get punished more. I think there’s a respect you can play when you’re at that level and are a bit more wary. But I just try and get in behind and run about daft.

“Jamie Vardy has made a career out of being the complete opposite from a lot of Premier League No. 9s - and that’s just being an absolute nuisance. If I can do that in a different position then hopefully I can be as successful as he has.

“I respected him as a player but until I actually came down here I didn't realise how annoying he was to play against.

“No one likes that and he's managed to progress the way he has and keep doing it at such a high level.

“I didn't think when I came down here I was going to use things like that but when you have the opportunity to play against players who have been so successful then you need to learn from them.”