Former Leeds United star shares Kalvin Phillips vision and urges Whites youngsters action

Former Whites star Tony Currie believes there is even more to come from Kalvin Phillips and hopes England can take a leaf out of Leeds United’s book.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 8:30 am

Homegrown United midfielder Phillips only made his Three Lions debut last September but the 25-year-old has rapidly amassed 19 caps, two more than former Leeds ace Currie.

England boss Gareth Southgate has predominantly played Phillips as part of a double pivot in the middle of the park, usually alongside Declan Rice but also in tandem with Jordan Henderson or Jude Bellingham.

Currie - who played in a more advanced central midfield role - has been impressed with what he has seen but believes the modern day Whites star has even more to offer going forward and is urging England to be more attacking when it comes to facing the world’s top sides.

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VISION: For Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, centre, from fellow former Three Lions ace Tony Currie. Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

“I’d like to see him do a bit more for England,” said Currie, who bagged ten of his Three Lions caps whilst at Leeds between 1976 and 1979.

“I think he’s got a lot more in his locker as they say but he’s a bit safe sometimes for England.

“I think he does more for Leeds than he does for England. I think he could do a bit more.

“He’s a decent player, a very decent player.”

Asked if he would like to see Phillips given more licence to get forward, Currie reasoned: “I think so. I think he can be a bit negative with his sideways and backwards passing but that seems to be the norm nowadays with most teams now.

“Their thought is if the other team hasn’t got the ball they can’t hurt you so they play it sideways and backwards a lot.

“It’s a bit bloody boring for me!

“I was the sort of player that hit a 50 or 60 yard ball and opened it up from deep midfield to get the wingers on the attack or somebody over the top to run on to.

“But Leeds play a decent way of playing anyway.

“They are quick, they break quick and they throw players forward.

“There is nothing wrong with that, you’ve just got to be careful that you don’t leave yourself open at the back.

“It’s the Keegan theory when he was at Newcastle - we win more games than we lose, even if we win 5-4.

“That’s probably the way they are playing.”

Leeds have only bagged two victories so far from the 2021-22 Premier League campaign but looked on course to bag a third when taking a one-nil lead into the half-time break of Sunday’s clash at Tottenham Hotspur.

Antonio Conte’s side then hit back to claim a 2-1 victory despite an impressive first-half showing from United who were missing seven players through injury.

That meant a first Premier League start for 19-year-old Whites forward Joe Gelhardt which would have been music to the ears of Currie who himself was handed a chance at a young age by first club Watford.

Currie only hopes that Leeds will give their youngsters plenty of minutes, the former midfielder saying that another of his former clubs Sheffield United learned the hard way by seeing young talent move on.

“If they’re good enough they’re old enough,” said Currie of Gelhardt.

"If they are good enough, they have got to be in the team.

“You can’t just keep holding them back because then you are stifling their learning process.

“If they are good enough, get them in.

“Sheffield United have had players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

"He didn’t get a sniff really at Sheffield United.

“He goes to Everton and he’s then in the England squad at a young age.

“We had Che Adams too.

“We let him go to Birmingham and then he went to Southampton and he’s a Scottish international now.

“You’ve got to give these players a go and a run as well.

“If I could have just had a run for England I might have got 50 or 60 or 70 caps.

“Watford gave me a chance at 17 and I scored nine goals in my first six games and within two months I was at Sheffield United playing in the top flight having only just turned 18.

“As the divisions are now, I went from League One Watford to Premier League Sheffield United from a 17 to an 18 year old.

“After getting rejected at 15 at QPR, by the time I was 17 I was in the England youth team and playing in the Premier League.

“You have got to give them a chance.”

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Thank you Laura Collins