Kevin Phillips insisted Jack Grealish must improve his work rate if he is to succeed at a top club after Graeme Souness labelled the Aston Villa captain a “passenger”. 

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former England international also urged the 24-year-old to stop dropping deep to get the ball which, he suggested, would add more goals to his game.

Souness wrote in his Sky Sports column that he is yet to be convinced of the attacking midfielder’s top team capabilities.

Grealish has scored nine goals and contributed eight assists in his 37 appearances in all competitions this season.

Phillips praised the midfielder’s ability but echoed Souness’s concerns defensively.

“I agree with some elements of what Souness said,” he told Football Insider.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“This is only his first full season in the Premier League. He has done very well but I would not say exceptional. There is a lot more to come.

“When you are in the Premier League you have to work both ways and his work rate this year has been good but when you play for a top team it has got to be great.

“Technically he is very gifted but he needs to score more goals. The biggest thing is putting himself in more positions to score goals rather than always coming deep.

“Souness was more questioning the desire and work rate which you need to play for a top team. When you watch Liverpool, every one of those players are at it when they lose the ball.”

In other Aston Villa news, Frank McAvennie tips John Terry to quit the club soon after major development.

PLUS: Subscribe for free to our brilliant new YouTube channel for daily videos, interviews with our top pundits and special guests, and all the latest insight into the club you love.