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According to former Sunderland striker Phillips, Chelsea loanee Ross Barkley may struggle to win his place back in Aston Villa’s starting XI.
The midfielder – on loan from Chelsea – hasn’t featured since the 2-1 defeat against Brighton on November 21 due to injury.
Phillips told Football Insider: “Barkley might struggle to get into that side with the way (Anwar) El Ghazi and (Bertrand) Traore are playing.
“Dean Smith wasn’t going to throw him straight back in against Palace.
“El Ghazi was fantastic and another goal for Traore. You are never going to drop Jack Grealish or John McGinn who are both just getting better and better.
“The competition is brilliant and that is healthy for Villa.
“It is a great boost for the club to have Barkley coming back and he will be needed because it is a hectic period.”