Gareth Southgate on Kalvin Phillips' England Euro 2020 chances and Marcelo Bielsa's impact on Leeds United midfielder

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips came close to an England call up a year ago as a Championship player, England boss Gareth Southgate has revealed.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:02 pm
KEY STABILITY - England boss Gareth Southgate said Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips and West Ham's Declan Rice gave England stability in front of the defence against Poland. Pic: Getty

The midfielder played every minute of tonight's 2-1 Wembley win over Poland and has played more minutes during the March internationals than any other outfield player.

Southgate elected to pair Phillips alongside West Ham's Declan Rice for the second World Cup Qualifying game in succession and although the England boss was contemplating a change as tonight's game went on, with the score locked at 1-1, he stuck with the defensive duo.

"Kalvin is really reliable with his rebounding of the ball in midfield," he said.

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"His athleticism is critical.

"We contemplated making a change for a long time but our attacking players were all having an impact. Declan and Kalvin giving us that stability in front of defence was key. We stuck with it. Sometimes you have to hold your nerve and stick with what you believe to be right."

England eventually took the lead on 85 minutes through a Harry Maguire goal from a corner and the result made it three wins from three in qualifying for Southgate's men.

Phillips featuring so heavily suggests he's in with a real chance of making the squad for the Euros, but Southgate wasn't prepared to confirm that this evening. He once again went on record with how pleasing Phillips' progress has been in his first season of international football and revealed that the Thorp Arch graduate was under consideration this time last year.

Southgate credits Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa for the huge strides Phillips has taken, but insists the player and his family also have to take plaudits.

"I think everyone has still got to perform well between now and the end of the season in every position," said the England manager.

"We're really pleased with what Kalvin has done. We were going to pick him last March when he was in the Championship. He came in in August before he had played in the Premier League.

"Kalvin has been a great addition to the group. Super boy, great humility, very, very good player. Marcelo has done an excellent job in developing him as an individual but he has a lot of good qualitieis that are of his and his family's making and I know they'll be very proud."