By Kevin Phillips

16th Aug, 2021 | 12:00pm

Phillips digs at once-great Everton star who's 'not the player he was'

Kevin Phillips insists Andros Townsend isn’t the player he once was despite a successful Everton debut.

The Sunderland legend, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed he was surprised when he heard the Toffees had signed the winger.

Townsend joined Everton on 20th July after leaving Crystal Palace as a free agent.

The winger briefly played under Benitez at Newcastle.

However, he didn’t stick around when Newcastle got relegated as he signed for Palace that summer.

Townsend was Benitez’s first signing at Everton after he controversially replaced Carlo Ancelotti.

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Phillips insists Townsend isn’t the player he once was but he did admit he could be useful to the Toffees.

“Andros Townsend was a great player,” Phillips told Football Insider correspondent Ben Wild.

“He’s still an asset but he’s not the player he used to be, I was surprised when Everton went in for him.

“There is so much pressure on Rafa, we all know that.

“As long as he’s winning games no one will question him. Winning is what matters to him and to Everton.

“Everton just need to be consistent, they were so up and down under Carlo Ancelotti at times.

“At the end of the day Rafa is a safe pair of hands and he knows he just needs to keep winning.”

Townsend picked up an assist as the Blues beat Southampton 3-1 on Saturday.

The Toffees initially went behind but goals from Richarlison, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin handed Benitez the points.

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