Ashley Phillips: One for the future of English football by Archie Berry
Full Name: Ashley Famiwuya Phillips
Nationality: England, Wales
Place of Birth: England
Date of Birth (Age): 26-06-2005 (18)
Height (CM): 192cm
Youth Career: Curzon Ashton, Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur
Contract Until: 30-06-2028
Key Competitions: EFL Championship, FA Cup, English League Cup
Current Club: Tottenham Hotspur
National Team: England U19
Preferred foot: Right
Weak foot: 4/5
Market Value: 2.5m
Injury history: No notable injuries that should have impacted on his value, or future potential
Player Comparison: Raphael Varane
– Athleticism (Very Strong)
– Mobility (Very Strong)
– Positioning (Very Strong)
– Anticipation (Very Strong)
– Composure (Very Strong)
– Ball carrying (Very Strong)
– Tackling (Very Strong)
– Short-Range, Mid-Range passing (Very Strong)
– Aerial duels (Very Strong)
– Power (Strong)
– Pace (Strong)
– Ambidexterity (Strong)
– Football IQ (Strong)
– Incisive Passing: Phillips is a very capable passer across all ranges and specifically the short-mid range areas, however his incisive passing to help break the opposition lines, needs improving. This is a skill that will take him far in Ange Postecoglou’s side, as the Australian typically ops for ball-playing centre-halves.
– Long Passing: A notable area for enhancement lies in his long-range passing. Elevating his proficiency in this aspect could significantly augment his contribution to the Tottenham side. Following Toby Alderweireld’s departure in 2021, there has been a void in the team’s long-range passing capabilities, a gap young Phillips could fill. He has displayed progression in this area since signing for Tottenham in games with the youth side, however I would like to see him hone these skills further, to make himself an even more valuable asset.
Style of Play:
Ashley Phillips has a stature that is comparable to most modern-day elite centre half’s, at 192cm, he is also quick on his feet and has good pace.
Phillips rarely fully commits himself and is extremely composed in 1v1 situations, hence the Van Dijk comparisons given to him in English media.
A good mixture of a pure defender and ball playing centre-back.
Ability to play right and left centre-back.
A very composed presence who wins the ball back and transitions the play well from defence into attack.
Very strong tackler, both standing and slide tackling.
Capable of using both feet.
Here we see Phillips up against Taiwo Awoniyi of Nottingham Forest, he displays excellent positioning throughout the opposition attack. He is constantly alert to the movement of Awoniyi and the man in possession (Brennan Johnson), he then reads Awoniyi’s run to the near post and successfully blocks his attempt on goal.
Here Phillips displays both composure and his football IQ ability. Phillips receives a pass from his goalkeeper and is pressed by multiple opposition players, he displays excellent composure and fakes a pass, to cut inside the opponent and beat the press. Phillips then remains composed to pick out a teammate in the midfield.
On display in these images are, Phillips ball retention and ball progression skills, the combination of his physical frame, long strides and good pace make him quite hard to shrug off the ball. He has displayed the ability to progress the ball in this manner on many occasions at youth level.
Highlighted in these images are Phillips’ adept tackling, precise passing, and composed demeanour. This aspect of his game sets him apart from his peers. Demonstrating excellence in winning the ball with a great challenge in the box while adeptly defending the half space, he then displays remarkable composure. Instead of opting for a clearance, Phillips elevates his game by lifting his head, strategically seeking to transition from defence to attack. The capacity to maintain such composure in high-pressure situations is indispensable for a player aspiring to make an impact in a team led by an attack-minded manager like Postecoglou. In contrast to many defenders who might instinctively clear the ball to mitigate danger, Phillips exhibits both the composure and skill to locate a teammate, giving his side the ability of transforming defensive plays into attacking opportunities.
Ashley Phillips stands as the epitome of a modern-day centre-half, showcasing exceptional abilities in possession, impressive physical attributes, and remarkable composure across all facets of his game. Accumulating approximately 500 minutes with Championship side Blackburn Rovers before reaching the age of 18, Phillips’ seamless transition to a top Premier League club like Tottenham Hotspur in the summer was a natural progression. As one of England’s most promising defensive prospects, I anticipate Phillips to meet expectations.
His playing style aligns harmoniously with the managerial approach of Spurs’ new manager, Ange Postecoglou, potentially positioning him favourably for valuable playing time. Phillips’ standout quality lies in his defensive anticipation within the box, where he demonstrates an ability to pre-emptively sense danger and adeptly position himself to protect the goal. This particular aspect of his game is poised to shine when he inevitably seizes opportunities at the highest level.
Potential rating: 8.5/10 – High level European club starter