Southgate England leader rules Leeds star Kalvin Phillips as European Championship chances grow
Gareth Southgate has praised Calvin Phillips after the Leeds United midfielder started competing for a team place in the delayed European Championship after starting three of the most recent World Cup qualifiers in England.
Phillips played more minutes than any other outside player against San Marino, Albania and Poland as the three Lions started the qualifying campaign with three wins out of three.
The 25-year-old, seen by many as a deputy for the injured Jordan Henderson, will now be working hard to join the Southgate team in the summer, the England leader has been shocked by the Leeds midfielder.
What did Southgat say?
“We are very pleased with what Kalvin has done,” the head of the Three Lions told reporters at a post-match press conference. “We went to pick him last March when he was in the Championship [before the pandemic hit]. He joined in August before playing in the Premier League.
“Kalvin has been a great addition to the team. Super boy, great humility, [a] very, very good player. [He] he is really reliable with the ball bouncing in the middle of the field. His athleticism is critical. “
The former Middlesbrough manager also spoke about the importance of Phillips ’role, along with center-back pivot Declan Rice, to help England hold on to the scare against Poland after the win over Harry Maguire.
He added: “We thought about making a long change, but all the attacking players had an impact. The key was for Declan and Kalvin to give us stability in front of the defense. We kept going with that. Sometimes you have to hold your nerve and continue with what you think is right.”
Phillips’ rise through the English posts
Three years ago, a graduate of the Whites academy didn’t even participate with the Three Lions at the junior level and was somewhat on the radar playing in the Leeds tournament.
But the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa has helped transform his game, turning the Argentine into a harder midfield option for defense and expanding his repertoire when he arrives at Elland Road.
Southgate also believes Phillips’ club manager has been instrumental in his progress, saying: “Marcelo has done a great job developing as an individual, but he has the good qualities of himself and his family. Know that they will be very proud.”
Phillips was selected to the EFL Championship Team of the Year for the 2018-19 season and was at the heart of the success of the load to return to the top in the next campaign.
The 25-year-old did not play in the Premier League when he was given his first cap in England in September, earning three more in 2020.
Since then, Phillips has won three more championships in 2021 – all in the starting XI – and will no doubt be in Southgate’s thoughts as he picks his national team for the summer European Championships.