Kalvin Phillips on Leeds United top goalscorer Patrick Bamford, last season's 'stick' and and a sleepless night over England
England international Kalvin Phillips doesn't believe Leeds United team-mate and 'confidence player' Patrick Bamford is far away from joining him on the international stage.
Phillips made his own England debut in September of this year, before he even tasted Premier League action with newly promoted Leeds.
Since the season kicked off, his friend Bamford has put himself in the conversation for Gareth Southgate's England squad with seven goals in eight top flight appearances.
Bamford's performances and clinical finishing, showcased best by a hat-trick against Aston VIlla, led to calls for a place in Southgate's squad for November's trio of internationals.
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It was all a far cry from the debate surrounding the forward a little more than a year ago, when a 10-game goalless drought led to calls for him to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah in the Leeds line-up. Nketiah was due to get a start against Queens Park Rangers on 2 November but picked up an injury and Bamford performed well in a 2-0 win, before scoring three in his next four games to nail down the lone striker role.
He kept the trust of Marcelo Bielsa, but in an interview with The Times Phillips revealed there were difficult times for Bamford in a title-winning season that saw him score 16 times.
“Last year was tough for Pat," said Phillips/
"He had a lot of stick. I had family and friends saying, ‘what’s Bamford doing? Is he a good player?’ Pat’s an unbelievable player. He’s got all the attributes to be a great striker: strong, quite big, faster than people think. His finishing is unbelievable.”
Since promotion, the area of Bamford's game that drew the most criticism last season has become a strength. His efficiency in front of goal has helped the Whites to take 10 points from their opening eight games and compile as solid a start as any supporter could realistically have hoped for before the campaign began.
Bamford's form, which Phillips puts down to confidence, has not gone unnoticed by Southgate, who brought the striker up unprompted in a press conference when unveiling his November squad.
"Both Callum Wilson and Patrick Bamford have done very well in the last few weeks for their clubs," he said.
"We're only a quarter of the way through the season, the next time we're together we'll be three quarters of the way through the season. There's a lot of football to be played and a lot of opportunity for those players to press a claim while they're playing with their clubs."
Phillips, who missed this month's internationals with a shoulder injury, said Bamford harboured hopes of selection before that press conference. The midfielder hopes he'll soon be joined in the Three Lions camp by his goalscoring team-mate.
“Pat said he couldn’t sleep the other night because the squad was getting announced the next day and he thought he could have a chance," said Phillips.
“I don’t think he’s far from it. He’s in the top three for goals this season.”