England captain Harry Kane talks up Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips after international exploits

England captain Harry Kane has talked up Kalvin Phillips' international exploits with the Three Lions.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:15 pm
Kalvin Phillips and Harry Kane in action for England against Croatia. Pic: Getty
Kalvin Phillips and Harry Kane in action for England against Croatia. Pic: Getty

The Leeds United midfielder grabbed headlines last weekend as he played a starring role in his nation's opening Euros victory.

Gareth Southgate's side earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Croatia at Wembley in the capital, beginning the 11-city delayed competition with three points.

Phillips featured in a more advanced role for England than he is used to, providing an assist for Raheem Sterling's match-winner in the second half.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Yorkshire Pirlo, as he is affectionately known, earned the man-of-the-match award from supporters for a game in which he was at his scintillating best - winning four duels, earning 44 touches and completing 31 of his 33 attempted passes.

His form hasn't gone unnoticed either, having impressed his international skipper.

“He has been brilliant," Kane reflected on Phillips' emergence with England against Croatia.

“He has just come off the back of a shoulder injury as well, he has been good in training and working hard to be fit for the first game.

“Obviously he was selected and did a fantastic job and there were a few guys out there playing their first game for England in a major tournament and they did their country proud.”

Debate raged following the announcement of Southgate's team, with Phillips playing in a three-man midfield alongside Declan Rice and Mason Mount.

Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Kane were chosen as the front three with Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford left on the bench.

“That is why he is doing his job and the fans are debating – that is part of football,” Kane continued.

“We have got a great squad and you can understand everyone has got their own opinions on who should play but we had a great team performance and it is important we use the whole squad throughout the tournament, it isn’t going to be the same XI every week.”

Kane also discussed his own game with attention now turning towards a meeting with familiar foe, Scotland, on Friday night in Group D.

“Dropping deep has always been a part of my game,” he added.

“Sometimes when I drop deep it allows space for the wingers or the midfielders to run in behind so it is always about doing my bit for the team, if it means dropping deep, I will drop deep. If it means staying high, I will stay high.

“We have got fantastic players on the ball and fantastic players in behind, you saw that with Raheem’s goal. We had a couple of runners and he got in and finished nicely.

“(It is) a great start, we know we have got a long way to go still but you always want to start with a win. It is a great building block for the rest of the tournament.”