Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips' note of caution for England ahead of Germany Euro 2020 clash
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips knows exactly what is required defensively against Germany but cautions against focusing too much on what England’s visitors can do.
Around 40,000 will be allowed into Wembley stadium this evening for the Euro 2020 last-16 clash and Phillips is hoping to maintain his ever-present record for Gareth Southgate’s side at the tournament.
The Thorp Arch academy graduate is the only outfield player to feature for every minute so far and Southgate’s vote of confidence means a lot to him.
“I know that he trusts me a lot to play in games like this and to play every minute, it’s an honour for me,” said Phillips.
“I’d be very happy to start the game. It’s always an honour to play for England especially in games like this.
“One of my main targets was to play as much as possible in this tournament and to play every minute is great for me, I don’t want to stop now, I want to keep going.”
If Phillips gets the nod to start in England’s midfield once again from Southgate he will face the biggest game of his career to date.
Germany will provide as stiff a test as Phillips has encountered since breaking into the Leeds first team, but his Premier League experiences last season, when he came up against some of the world’s best midfielders, give him confidence.
“Just look at the players they’ve got in their team,” he said. “Near enough every single player is a top-level player. They’ve got players in midfield who play for Madrid and clubs like that.
“[We just have to] try and get around them as much as possible. It’s going to be hard but I’ve done it for the last year now in the Premier League, I’ve been playing against top players and I’ve done reasonably well, although I know international football is a totally different level.
“My job for the team is getting the ball back and giving it to the flair players so they can do something.”
He’s adamant it won’t all be about defending for England, who are yet to concede in the tournament but have also found chance creation hard going. They have to set out to cause problems of their own.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult game but we can’t always focus on when they’re on the ball,” he said.
“We’ve got to break them down minute by minute. We’ve been working on some stuff in training; hopefully it can come off in the game.
“Everyone says Gareth was a defender so his teams are very defensive but I feel like, in the last three games, we haven’t conceded a goal, which is good and the fact we’re keeping clean sheets is a major positive.
“[Southgate is] very easy going, he wants us to attack, to get goals and express ourselves when we have got the ball and when we haven’t.
“We are ready to go out and play against Germany, we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and you’re just looking forward to getting out there and doing the job.”
Phillips could not have imagined this scenario with England nine months ago, never mind a year ago when he was still in the Championship.
Being involved in a major tournament is a dream come true and one he doesn’t want to end tonight.
“If I’d been told nine months ago that I’d play as much as I have for England, especially in the tournament, I wouldn’t have agreed with anybody,” he said.
“The fact that I’m here now and doing it, it’s testament to myself, the manager and coaching staff. I’m very happy to be doing it.
“Just thinking about [Germany] now it gives me goosebumps. Being involved in a match as important as this for your country is one you want to do well in and don’t want to forget. If I do my best on the pitch and leave everything out on the pitch, if I do that, I’ll come off with no regrets.”