Frank Lampard reflects on Kalvin Phillips story and hails Leeds United midfielder for answering question after England triumph
FRANK Lampard hailed Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips for answering a new question following England's victory against Croatia at Wembley.
Phillips was handed an international tournament debut by England boss Gareth Southgate as the Three Lions began their quest for European Championships glory in Sunday's Group D opener.
The 25-year-old Whites star has excelled as a deep lying midfielder for head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds but Phillips was deployed in a more attacking role by Southgate against Croatia.
Phillips lined up alongside West Ham's Declan Rice who sat deep as Phillips and Chelsea's Mason Mount played further forward and Phillips capped a superb display by setting up the game's only goal.
The player nicknamed the Yorkshire Pirlo burst into the final third and beat two men before sending a perfect through ball for Raheem Sterling who tucked away a neat finish three minutes before the hour.
Lampard faced Phillips as a manager with both Derby County in the Championship and also Chelsea in the Premier League and the former England midfielder was mightily impressed with what he saw.
Phillips only made his England debut last September and was playing Championship football as recently as last June.
"I think it's a great story anyway for a lad that was playing in the Championship not that long ago and now he is playing with confidence here in the England team and speaking so well after the game," said Lampard on the BBC.
"He is a player that we see week in, week out for his club team generally playing in a deep area. His game has really improved and he patrols the game from a deep area.
"Now Gareth has asked a question of him - can you play higher? Can you give us that energy? Can you give us that bit of brain that he brought into the team?
"I thought he did it brilliantly well.
"I've got to say the balance of the midfield was spot on."
Lampard added: "As a manager, there will be nothing as fulfilling as that.
"When you make calls that maybe could be questioned, a right back at left back, you tweak the system, I don't think any of us quite expected to play Phillips as advanced like he didand he was probably man of the match in the game.
"I just think from Gareth's position, he can look at that now and say there's something about this group, what I ask of them, the energy that they have got, that kind of bit of attitude and arrogance that they seem to have at the minute in a good way.
"I am not sure we have had that in our group for a long time.
"With this atmosphere around and this crowd behind them, they can do something.
"With the structure of the team, at times, I think with the midfield players playing high and the wingers being wide, sometimes it got a tiny bit predictable.
"The minute Phillips changes position, the minute Sterling came off the line and Foden and players like that, we were really dangerous."
Asked even before Phillips' second-half assist who had caught his eye during the first half, Lampard said: "I think Phillips in midfield and the energy.
"I think it was a brave selection from Gareth in midfield, he slightly tweaked it and played Rice slightly deeper, Phillips on the right and Mason on the left.
"That then gives Phillips and Mason the chance knowing you can jump as you have got security of Rice sitting behind you. They did that very well."
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Thank you Laura Collins