Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips compared to Ballon d'Or contender as former England winger slams 'antiquated' Three Lions views

FORMER England international Adam Lallana has outlined the importance of England's holding midfielders and the "crucial robustness" of Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 26th June 2021, 2:35 pm

Phillips is the only Three Lions outfield player to have played every minute of all three of England's group stage games of Euro 2020.

The 25-year-old has lined up in the XI along with West Ham's Declan Rice in all three fixtures, raising discussion about the so-called 'double pivot' in midfield.

Phillips and Rice are both recognised as natural holding midfielders although Phillips was deployed in a more advanced role in front of Rice until Rice was taken off at the half-time interval of the Group D finale against the Czech Republic.

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ROBUST: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, left, pictured holding off Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.

Rice was replaced by Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson who took over the more advanced role previously filled by Phillips as the Whites midfielder reverted to the holding position that he is deployed in for his club.

Be it via Phillips, Rice or Henderson, there have been calls in various quarters for Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to remove one of the 'holding' options from the side in favour of another more attacking threat through the middle.

But former England winger Lallana has highlighted the importance of England building from a solid platform and the example of Ballon d'Or second favourite N'Golo Kante and Jorginho in Chelsea's heroics of winning the Champions League.

The Three Lions are yet to concede a goal at this summer's Euros and will now ace fierce rivals Germany in the last 16 at Wembley on Tuesday evening (kick-off 5pm).

"Their defensive record has been exemplary so far and it is important not to overlook the role of the holding midfielders in achieving such a solid base," said Lallana, writing in his column in The Times.

"It was less than a month ago that we were marvelling at the genius of N'Golo Kante and Jorginho in guiding Chelsea to a Champions League final victory against Manchester City.

"Yet, now with England, it's almost being derided as antiquated and regressive.

"It makes sense to discuss this in the context of of the players who've started the first three matches in the role; Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips

"However, one of the advantages of the England coaching team is that they have so many others who can play the position effectively, such as Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham and even Phil Foden and Mason Mount.

"With two defensive-minded No 6s in Rice and Phillips the team are compact centrally. Their first instincts are to protect.

"That is a vital mindset and is backed by peripheral vision, awareness and the athleticism to react.

"Being adventurous is not discouraged, but it must be calculated against the responsibility to shield if possession is lost. England have benefited from this.

“These qualities should come to the fore even more now against Germany in the round of 16, with Rice’s ability to break up possession and the robustness of Phillips crucial."

*Adam Lallana's Times column can be read in full HERE

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Thank you Laura Collins