By Kevin Phillips

21st Jan, 2020 | 10:33am

Exclusive: Kevin Phillips makes significant Aston Villa claim

Kevin Phillips has claimed Aston Villa would be relegated if Jack Grealish joined the club’s casualty list.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-England striker is in no doubt about the importance of the club captain and playmaker.

Grealish has been outstanding for Villa this season, delivering a series of dazzling displays as well as a growing showreel of outstanding goals.

Phillips does not believe Dean Smith’s side will avoid relegation if Grealish were to be sidelined for a long time like John McGinn, Tom Heaton and Wesley, who have all been ruled out for the rest of the season.

“He has proved himself, week in and week out,” Phillips told Football Insider. “For a young lad having the mantle of being captain, everyone’s talking about him, everyone’s expecting him to put in a man of the match performance every week, it’s tough and I think it’s a bit unfair really.

“His performances certainly this year have got better and better, obviously he has been talked about as an England call- up.

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“Of course, there’s still room for improvement, I still think he needs to score more goals in
the positions that he gets into.

“If you were to lose Grealish now then, unfortunately, I couldn’t see a way back for Villa in terms of surviving relegation – while you’ve got him in your squad and you’ve got him fit you’ve always got a chance.”

Grealish has scored nine goals and provided six assists from 24 matches in all competitions this season, with seven of his goals coming in the Premier League.

He scored his latest wonder goal with the equaliser in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Brighton, which left Villa 18th in the league, one point and place adrift of safety.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that north-east big hitters have set their sights on signing senior man after contract opening.