Graeme Souness advises change to England's midfield featuring Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips

GRAEME Souness insists playing Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips alongside West Ham's Declan Rice in England's midfield does not work.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 11:26 am

Phillips and Rice have both played the full duration of England's first two games of this summer's Euros which have yielded victory against Croatia and a disappointing goalless draw against Scotland - both at Wembley.

Phillips has excelled as a defensive midfielder under Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa for Leeds but has been deployed in a more advanced role in front of Rice by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

Phillips set up the only goal of the game for Raheem Sterling in England's opening game against Croatia but the Three Lions lacked a creative edge in Friday night's stalemate against the Tartan Army.

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BOTH TOGETHER: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, centre, along with West Ham's Declan Rice, left. Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images.
BOTH TOGETHER: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, centre, along with West Ham's Declan Rice, left. Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga - Pool/Getty Images.

Southgate eventually brought on Jack Grealish but to the left side of a front three as Phil Foden was withdrawn and former Liverpool star Souness believes England have to change their centre midfield.

Rice and Phillips played the full match against Scotland as part of a central axis that also included Chelsea's Mason Mount in a no 10 role.

Southgate also took off striker Harry Kane for Marcus Rashford and former Scotland international Souness said on ITV: "The centre backs had an easy night against him (Kane).

"Harry Kane looks a shadow of the player we know he is.

"In the two games he has looked leggy, lacking in enthusiasm and I know that a centre forward really is 90 per cent relying on the kind of passes he is getting and he is not getting a great deal from that midfield because that ain't working.

"I don't care what anyone says, that ain't working.

"But Harry doesn't look himself, he looks jaded, he looks tired and this is a guy that is looking to get a big move this summer, He needs to be waking himself up.

"He came off in the first game - is he carrying something? Because he looks a shadow of himself."

Souness added: "Apart from Harry Kane, football ain’t coming home with that team I can tell you.

"Not the way they are playing.

"When I wrote our (Scotland's) midfield down, that midfield we had is a footballing midfield.

"It's not got a couple of sitting midfielders like England have.

"At this level you can't have that, you need more football in the team. Scotland looked like a proper team but without that cutting edge.

"If you didn't know who the two teams were and you came down from another planet, there's the team trying to play football (Scotland), they have got a bit about them and they have obviously spent a lot of time playing together.

"England looked a disjointed outfit, there was no cohesion, there was no purpose in their passing.

"I come back to Phillips and I come back to Declan Rice.

"That for me, that doesn’t work. They’re two peas out of the same pod.”

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Thank you Laura Collins