Jose Mourinho calls for Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips to start for England against Croatia

Jose Mourinho believes Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips should start for England against Croatia.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 12:18 pm

Gareth Southgate's Three Lions outfit begin their Euro 2020 campaign against the country that knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage.

England - who will play all three Group D games at Wembley as part of the 11 city tournament - have included Whites academy graduate Phillips in their 26-man strong squad for the delayed competition.

Debate surrounds who Southgate will select for the opening game, especially in the centre of the pitch with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson battling for fitness.

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Mourinho, though, says he would like to see Phillips start this weekend alongside West Ham's Declan Rice to give England control.

"I think to be offensive you have to be in control of matches. How can you be offensive if you don't have the ball?," he told talksport.

"It is important to control that midfield. I think you play with three midfield players, be in control of that area. When I say with three midfielders, one of them can be [Phil] Foden.

"I am not saying [Jordan] Henderson, [Declan] Rice and Kalvin Phillips but I believe that it is important to be in control. Dominant is to be in control. When you have a good midfield like England have with the attack they have, England has everything."

Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips (right) in England training. Pic: Getty

Asked about his own line-up he was torn before eventually opting for the Yorkshire Pirlo, Mourinho added: "In midfield there is a player that I love, but maybe I wouldn't play him in the first game and that is [Jude] Bellingham. He has fantastic potential.

"To play with Rice I think Bellingham would be perfect but maybe Kalvin Phillips [should play] with Rice [against Croatia]. I would have doubts because Bellingham would be the perfect second midfielder with Rice.

"I would say, Grealish on the left, Mount as a No 10 and because I like the wingers inverted, I would play Foden on the right. I would play Foden, Mount and Grealish.

"That is why I am saying Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice."