Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips has tipped the “exceptional” Ollie Watkins to hit double figures this season after he scored on his first outing for Aston Villa.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former England international admitted that Villa have taken a “gamble” in signing the 24-year-old in a mega-money deal but one be believes will pay off.

Watkins scored the only goal of a 1-0 friendly win over Manchester United yesterday just three days after he signed for the West Midlands club.

The club-record £33million signing scored 26 goals in 49 Championship appearances last season as Brentford narrowly missed out on promotion through the play-offs.

Phillips claimed that with Jack Grealish behind him Watkins should receive plenty of opportunities this season.

“He had an exceptional season last year and I like the look of him,” he told Football Insider.

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“His game really developed. You could see that he got stronger and better as the season went on.

“The question will be whether or not they can create the opportunities for him and with Grealish playing week in, week out you would think that he will have chances.

“It is a big ask for him to hit double figures this season but he is a big, quick lad who knows where the back of net is.

“It seems like a lot of money but when score that many goals in the Championship you are going to have a price on your head and Villa needed options in that area.

“It is a gamble but I do not think it will backfire. I can see the kid getting goals. It is a big ask for him to get double figures but I hope he can.”

In other Aston Villa news, Noel Whelan has told Football Insider that big-money signing ‘was not Dean Smith’s first choice’.