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Dec 26, 2014 12:45 PM GMT
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By ESPN Staff

Phillips can be another 'Sheringham'

David O'Leary has challenged Kevin Phillips to make the transformation from being an out-and-out striker into a Teddy Sheringham type player at Aston Villa.

Phillips has always been at his most effective when feeding off a big target man such as Niall Quinn at Sunderland and latterly Peter Crouch at Southampton.

O'Leary has a different kind of front-runner to compliment 32-year-old Phillips at Villa Park in Milan Baros, whose pace he wants to exploit to the maximum.

But he believes Phillips has the knowledge and capabilities to be able to switch to a different sort of role in what is likely to be his swansong as a top-flight player with Villa.

He returned to action in Saturday's FA Cup fourth round clash with Port Vale as a substitute after two months out with an ankle problem and his first touch laid on the opening goal for Baros in a 3-1 win.

O'Leary, who signed Phillips from Southampton for £750,000 in the summer, admitted: 'Originally I bought Kevin as an impact player to come off the bench in situations like against Port Vale and turn the game around for us.

'That is exactly what he did on Saturday. In the past he was very much an out-and-out striker and got all those goals playing alongside Niall Quinn for Sunderland.

'He fed off Niall's work and they had a great partnership. He is great in and around the box. He was like that with Peter Crouch at Southampton as well.

'But there is no big target man here and I want to make use the pace of Milan Baros because that will scare any defence in the Premiership.

'I will encourage Kevin to do the same sort of thing as Teddy Sheringham does for West Ham which is to drop back a bit and dictate from behind the striker.'

O'Leary added: 'He is a superb professional, he looks after himself very well and understands the game. He is good to have around the dressing room - like Teddy is.

'He is intelligent and I think he can adapt his game from being an out-and-out striker into being a creator while still weighing in with some goals.

'He can pick a pass, he has good feet and uses his brain well.'