Gareth Southgate assesses role of Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and West Ham's Declan Rice after England success in Albania

ENGLAND boss Gareth Southgate hailed midfield duo Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice following their roles in a 2-0 victory in Albania for the Three Lions.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:32 am

Southgate opted to pair both Phillips and Rice together in the middle of the park for Sunday evening's World Cup qualifier in Tirana as the duo sat behind Chelsea's Mason Mount in the no 10 role.

Phillips often took up a more advanced position than Rice meaning at times he was playing as a no 8 with Rice just in behind as a holding midfielder - the role Phillips excels in for Leeds.

Captain Harry Kane headed the Three Lions in front in the 38th minute before Mount doubled the advantage with a beautiful floated finish three minutes after the hour.

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PLEASED: England boss Gareth Southgate. Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images.
PLEASED: England boss Gareth Southgate. Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images.

Southgate then made his first change in the 71st minute as Phillips was taken off for Southampton's James Ward-Prowse.

"Rice and Phillips read the game well, competed well, we won the ball back really quickly," said Southgate.

"I think we were over 70 per cent possession.

"We have controlled the game and the longer it went on we created more chances and could have finished more comfortable.

PRAISE: For Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, pictured during Sunday evening's 2-0 victory against Albania in a World Cup qualifier in Tirana. Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images.

"I think we controlled the game very well.

"For the first 25 minutes or so we just struggled to find space in behind their midfield. The space was there, we could get the connections to the players.

"We just tweaked a little bit the way we were building up and then we had a little bit more joy, certainly down the left side with Luke, Raheem (Sterling) and Mason connecting to begin with.

"Then gradually that happened on the right as well, so I think we were pleased with that.

"We controlled most of the game in that period, should have scored more.

"I didn't particularly like the way we managed the last 15 minutes. I just thought there were some decisions we made that needed to be better in order to either score more or not invite pressure.

"I thought we could have kept the ball a bit better in those periods.

"But, look, it's a good win and we move on in healthy condition to Wednesday."

Albania boss Edoardo Reja said: "We have prepared this game to playing defence and to cause a lot of problems for the English team.

"But our plan did not go so well because we didn't succeed in this way.

"Of course in the first half England was not so good. I mean, they made just a shot in the target.

"We were well organised in the defence and we tried to make some counter attacks but it was impossible because it was like crashing with a mountain of muscles.

"The English team are really strong and really quick."

England are back in action on Wednesday night with another World Cup qualifier against Poland at Wembley.

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Thank you Laura Collins