By Kevin Phillips

1st Nov, 2021 | 4:00pm

Phillips makes 'huge' Aston Villa-Smith sack claim after 'speaking to Shakespeare'

Kevin Phillips has tipped Aston Villa to stick with under-fire boss Dean Smith after speaking to assistant manager Craig Shakespeare.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Claret and Blues striker claimed a top-10 finish would constitute success for Dean Smith’s side this season.

Aston Villa have lost their last four Premier League fixtures and were hammered 4-1 by West Ham on Sunday.

A Villa source has told Football Insider that Dean Smith’s position is under “huge” scrutiny by club chiefs.

However, Phillips believes Smith still has the backing of the supporters.

“It’s a difficult situation at Villa,” he told Football Insider.

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“If Jack Grealish was still there I’d expect them to be pushing for Europe. But, they lost their best player who made a huge difference to them. Virtually everything went through Jack. He’s been a big loss.

“I live in the area and I have no heard anything about Smith being under pressure. Villa fans seem happy with him at the moment.

“It is about results at the end of the day though. They have good players there but losing Grealish is tough.

“I don’t see anything happening imminently. I spoke to Craig Shakespeare a couple of weeks back but he didn’t tell me what their targets were this season.

“It’s only natural that you want to progress though. They will want to finish higher than last season. I think finishing in the top 10 would have been what Shakey and Smith discussed before the season. If they can do that this season it would be a huge success.”

In other news, ex-Premier League referee claims Aston Villa star should get extended ban as controversial footage emerges.