Spotlight on Ashley Phillips after Sheffield United linked with transfer swoop for 'phenomenal' Tottenham man

Sheffield United linked with 6ft 4in Spurs defender after impressive season with Plymouth in Championship
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Sheffield United are reportedly eyeing a swoop for Tottenham Hotspur defender Ashley Phillips after an impressive season on loan at Plymouth Argyle in the Championship. The 6ft 4in centre-half, still only 18 years old, joined Spurs from Blackburn last August before moving to Plymouth in the January transfer window.

An England U19 who represented Wales at U16 level earlier in his career, The Sun reported over the weekend that Phillips has attracted the attention of United ahead of their big summer rebuild but they are unlikely to be his only suitors after 18 appearances for the Pilgrims in the second half of the season. A composed, ball-playing defender with pace, despite his height, Phillips is highly-rated by Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou and was named in his matchday squad seven times earlier this season.

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Phillips was on standby to make his Spurs debut earlier this season against Wolves but had to be content with a place on the bench before moving out in January to further his development with more first-team football. A temporary switch to a side further up the Championship pecking order could be the next step for Phillips, with United on course to return to the second tier after falling effectively 11 points behind fourth-bottom Nottingham Forest with just six games of their Premier League season remaining.

Phillips cost Spurs around £2m after they exploited a buy-out clause in his deal, after initially walking away earlier in the summer when Rovers upped their asking price to nearly £10m. Tony Mowbray, who managed him at Ewood Park, has previously said of the teenager: "He's 6ft 4in, he's fast, mobile and can pass it really well. He can use both feet, he's composed. Ash is just a phenomenal young boy; if you were to create a defender in the mould of how you would want one, this kid has got every attribute.”

It’s little surprise, then, that he has made a big impression at Home Park, with Plymouth Live reporter Chris Errington telling Football London that “it’s hard to believe he is only 18. Because of his physique, as he certainly doesn't look out of place playing Championship football physically, and he's also got good technical ability as well.

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"He played in the Championship a few times last season so it's not new to him but coming into a new club, different environment that's gone through quite a big upheaval with Steven Schumacher leaving, Ian Foster coming in [and subsequently leaving recently]. Lots of new faces coming in as well, it's not the easiest time for him to go into a new club but I've been impressed.”

Both United and boss Chris Wilder have good relationships with some of the Premier League’s biggest teams in terms of being trusted with their most promising loan players. The Blades have previously taken Cameron Carter-Vickers on loan from Spurs while the likes of Dean Henderson (from Manchester United), Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolves) and Tommy Doyle and James McAtee (Manchester City) have also enhanced their careers with successful temporary spells at Bramall Lane in recent seasons.

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