England debate presents Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips with a challenge to be embraced - David Prutton

LEEDS United have a whole host of players on international duty at present and it’s been an amazing turnaround from how things were.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 10th October 2020, 5:45 am

You could quite easily say Leeds were in the doldrums but now the club are firmly back in the ascendancy when you compare what it is like now –and what it used to be not that long ago.

Leeds is a huge club that was built on international footballers and they were proudly playing around the world.

It’s obviously a slightly different landscape these players find themselves in at present with international travel.

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SETTLING IN: Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips keeps ahead of Dylan Levitt during Thursday evening's friendly against Wales at Wembley in just his second appearance for the Three Lions. Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images.

I was covering the Republic of Ireland game on Thursday and Ireland suddenly had to change parts of their squad because of late shouts with regards to Covid.

That’s obviously a point that you have to be wary of.

But the number of internationals that Leeds have at the moment is a wonderful reflection of what they have managed to rebuild at Elland Road and they should be rightly proud of it.

Kalvin Phillips bagged his second cap for England in Thursday night’s 3-0 friendly win against Wales at Wembley and there has been plenty of talk about Gareth Southgate’s system and formation, with Phillips lining up next to Harry Winks and the manager effectively deploying two holding midfielders.

Fans have been questioning whether England really need two holding midfielders and would Phillips be better there on his own?

But England ultimately won 3-0 and it was very comfortable.

If you are a Leeds United fan it would be great if you were watching games and Kalvin was superb for England and Leeds. That’s the ideal and not least for player himself.

But sometimes being in a team means that you have got to sacrifice portions of what your game are.

I’m not saying for one second that it becomes the Frank Lampard/Stephen Gerrard dilemma of trying to transfer phenomenal club form to try and get those two wonderful players to dovetail.

But I think whilst Phillips is finding his way in the national set-up then getting games where England are producing results and games where he is part of a young collective moving forward can only reflect well on Kalvin and it’s part of his learning curve to become a broader footballer.

It’s funny that people are looking at a game like that and saying he was good but we could have had more out of him. There were no goals conceded and three scored at the other end which is a pretty good game for England.

The only way that you will find out if Phillips is good enough to play the holding midfield role for England on his own is by committing to it and taking the plunge.

But as good as Kalvin is, I think it’s a huge step to say that as he has done it over the course of several seasons in the Championship and for less than double figures games in the Premier League we should say well England should obviously build a team around him. I think it’s a bit early for that.

He’s got to build during the season and show it against Liverpool and against Man City and the big teams in the Premier League because that’s what they do internationally.

You look for a player that can dominate the game and make the team tick and opponents will then try and stifle you like Man City did to Phillips on Saturday night.

That’s the next challenge for him, to be able to outthink opponents that don’t want him to play well within the framework of what his manager wants.

It’s a fantastic challenge for him but let’s not get carried away because if Kalvin is played on his own as a holding midfielder and he doesn’t step up instantly then there will be a massive pile on of people saying he wasn’t good enough to do that saying they were right.

They would be basing that opinion over a mere handful of games which is way too impatient when it comes to judging a footballer, especially in the Premier League.

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Thank you Laura Collins