Gabriel Agbonlahor has hit out at West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal and called on referees to offer Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish “a lot more protection”.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the legendary former Villa striker insisted the England international is at risk of suffering a long-term injury.

West Ham committed 20 fouls against Villa on Monday night, four of which were on Grealish, according to WhoScored.

The 25-year-old has now been fouled 17 times already this season, continuing a worrying trend from last season.

In the 2019-20 campaign, Grealish was fouled a staggering 167 times, more than anybody else in the division and a new Premier League record.

He broke the previous record of 127 with nine games to spare against Chelsea in June where he was fouled nine times, the most for a player in a single game last term.

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Asked by Football Insider whether he was worried bout the amount of attention his former teammate gets from opposition defenders, Agbonlahor said: “Referees have got to give him a lot more protection.

“The right-back Coufal got away with too many free ones. If the referees book players for fouls more easily, they’ll stop doing it.

“Jack always seems to get fouled, he needs more protection because some of those fouls are going to injure him one day and Villa cannot afford to be without him.”

Aston Villa players

Grealish was handed the Aston Villa captaincy in March 2019 and has emerged as their talisman since their return to the Premier League.

Since the beginning of last season, he has scored 13 goals and provided 12 assists in the top-flight.

In other Aston Villa news, Football Insider can REVEAL John Terry’s stance on quitting the club for Derby County.