Matt Tootle hails Crewe Alexandra keeper Steve Phillips

Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Steve Phillips
Phillips was restricted to just three first-team appearances last season

Matt Tootle believes the return of goalkeeper Steve Phillips has helped to make Crewe a better defensive unit.

Phillips, 33, has been an ever-present for the Alex this season, having been back-up to on-loan Chelsea stopper Rhys Taylor during the 2010/11 campaign.

Full-back Tootle told BBC Radio Stoke: "He's made one mistake and people need to realise that he's been fantastic.

"His talking has been out of this world and, no disrespect to Rhys, but we didn't have that last year."

Phillips struggled to displace Taylor in the first team following shoulder surgery in the summer of 2010 and made just two starts last season.

After Taylor's return to Stamford Bridge, Phillips was restored to the starting line-up and has been one of Crewe's star performers in the early weeks of the campaign.

He was at fault for Burton's winning goal in a 1-0 defeat on 13 September, but the former Bristol Rovers man responded by keeping his third clean sheet of the season in the 2-0 victory at Accrington on Saturday.

AJ Leitch-Smith and Byron Moore scored inside the first 15 minutes at the Crown Ground to give Dario Gradi's side their fourth win in five League Two matches.

"A lot of strikers in this league wouldn't have scored the goal that AJ scored," added Tootle. "That's the sort of technique you get when you come through Crewe's academy.

"And Byron is always going to get a goal with his pace. We needed a result like this to get our season going."

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