By Kevin Phillips

23rd Jan, 2021 | 9:00am

'Huge' - Exclusive: Kevin Phillips share Neil Lennon verdict amid John McGinn reveal

Kevin Phillips has insisted one of the Aston Villa squad’s biggest assets is their togetherness and how they fight for one another.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Villa and England striker delivered his verdict after John McGinn revealed a BBQ last year played a vital role in helping the squad avoid relegation last season.

The Scotsman told the Athletic a “mini-gathering” at the Belfry Hotel near the club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground helped the squad “click” before they avoided the drop on the final day.

Villa avoided defeat in their final four games of last season and stayed up by a single point with a 1-1 draw with West Ham United in their final game.

Asked by Football Insider for the role team-bonding exercises have in the modern game, Phillips said: “It is certainly not as prevalent as when I was playing, team trips out but it can be hugely beneficial in my experience.

“That is perhaps what Neil Lennon was thinking when he took Celtic to Dubai, whether it was right or wrong.

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“Team bonding sessions are vital, you find out things about each other and build up team spirit.

“It is huge and it does not surprise me to hear McGinn say that because I have been on many team bonding weekends. You find out something about someone that you perhaps did not know. It can help you on a matchday and create a really good team spirit.

“When you look at that Villa squad that is one of their biggest assets. They are all fighting the same corner, so I am not surprised to hear John say that.” 

In other news, a top pundit has claimed Aston Villa are close to signing a player they can make big money on.