England boss Gareth Southgate hands special praise to Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and West Ham's Declan Rice

England boss Gareth Southgate has praised Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice for their Euro 2020 exploits.

Sunday, 11th July 2021, 7:00 am
England midfield pair Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice. Pic: Getty
England midfield pair Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice. Pic: Getty

The Three Lions midfield partnership are featuring in their debut international tournament this summer and have helped lead their nation to a first major final for 55 years.

Phillips boasted just eight caps before the delayed competition got underway last month while Rice had 17 appearances to his name.

The duo, though, have impressed for England despite their lack of experience on the international stage - starting all six games together at the European Championships to forge a strong bond in the middle of the park.

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Southgate has stuck with his central pairing despite calls from outside of St George's Park for Liverpool's Jordan Henderson to take on a larger role now he is fully fit.

Phillips and Rice are again expected to line up against Italy in tonight's highly-anticipated Euros final at Wembley and their head coach has no worries over two Premier League regulars.

"There are benefits to having experience in big matches and sometimes there are benefits for it all being fresh and exciting and new," Southgate said ahead of a meeting with the Azzurri.

"Declan and Kalvin in particular have adapted so well to that challenge. They have already played against some outstanding players. We have trust in all of our players. This effort has been about the whole squad and that will continue.

"When you are coaching a team you watch everything and you have to decide the most important information for the players and not flood them too much.

"There are fantastic players all the way through the Italian team, they have a good tactical plan, an experienced coach and are on an amazing run.

"We have our own strengths. We've tried to play to ours and we need to do the same again."

The roar of a partisan 65,000-plus crowd at Wembley will boost England on Sunday against an Italy side undefeated in 33 matches.

“The atmosphere in the ground has been great," Southgate said.

“When we started three, four years ago we had people throwing paper airplanes, they weren’t behind the team, there was an apathy towards the team.

“Now, the energy in the stadium is fantastic and that’s so important for the players.

“They need to feel that, they need that warmth, that support and it’s definitely helped inspire us during this tournament.”