'It's difficult to shine' - Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa says Kalvin Phillips deserves to feel England pride

The Whites midfielder enjoyed a successful period away with England over the international break.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 3:21 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd April 2021, 3:22 pm
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips in action for England. Pic: Getty

Marcelo Bielsa insists Kalvin Phillips deserves to be very proud of his England achievements under Gareth Southgate.

The Thorp Arch academy product featured in each of the Three Lions' World Cup qualifiers over the course of the March international break.

Phillips played full games against San Marino and Poland with 70 minutes in Albania sandwiched in between, which saw him gather the most minutes played of any outfield player.

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England took nine points from a possible nine to kick-off their Group I campaign ahead of Qatar amid their final meet-up before this summer's delayed Euro 2020.

Phillips has boosted his hopes of making Southgate's final 23-man squad for the tournament with competition strong between himself, Declan Rice and the injured Jordan Henderson.

United's midfielder was deployed in a more advanced role against Poland and Albania while taking up his usual deeper position for San Marino.

Southgate was full of praise for his impact throughout the training camp on a whole, highlighting Phillips' consistent level of performance.

There was also special praise reserved for Bielsa from the national head coach, though the Elland Road boss preferred to talk up his own player's achievements.

"To be able to hold onto a starting position in a team that is as strong as England is an important achievement," Bielsa said.

"It's a sector of the pitch where it's difficult to shine. He deserves to be very proud of what he has been achieving."

Asked about Phillips' change of position away from his usual deep-lying role at club level, Bielsa said: "He originally was a box-to-box or intermediate midfielder and he has the habits of having played in this position for many years.

"They are resources which help to improve a player at being able to play in different positions.

"With respect to his physical condition, it is all linked to the effort he puts into this matter."