By Kevin Phillips

19th Feb, 2020 | 11:52am

Exclusive: Kevin Phillips defends under-fire Aston Villa ace after 'Harsh' criticism

Kevin Phillips claimed it would be “harsh” to solely blame Bjorn Engels for two of the goals Aston Villa conceded against Spurs on Sunday. 

The 2000 European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, instead praised the “great determination” of the 25-year-old to score his first goal for the club.

Engels came under the spotlight for his hand in Tottenham’s second and third goals as Villa lost 3-2 at Villa Park.

The first mistake came in first-half stoppage time, the central defender adjudged to how fouled Steven Berwijn in the 18-yeard box. A penalty was awarded and despite missing the initial effort, Son Heung-min converted the rebound.

The decider came in the 94th minute with the Belgian defender failing to control a long ball, allowing Son to score his second and seal victory for the visitors.

When asked if post-match criticism of Engels was just, Phillips told Football Insider: “It is always a tough one. It is harsh to blame the kid.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“You defend from the front and you defend as a team and every goal has two or three mistakes in it. Unfortunately, the defender is going to take the brunt of it because he was the last man involved.

“Engels showed great determination. He gave away a penalty but then he has got his goal as well. You can criticise him for giving the penalty away but then you have to give him praise for getting his header on the end of the cross and getting the goal.”

The former Club Brugge player did score the second for Dean Smith’s side but it was ultimately in vain.

The loss leaves Villa one point and one place above the relegation zone with 18th placed West Ham in action on Wednesday night against Manchester City.

In other Aston Villa news, Noel Whelan has told Football Insider the one player who will be raging at his teammates following loss to Spurs.