Leeds United's 'exemplary' England international Kalvin Phillips should start against chaotic Germany - David Prutton
KALVIN Phillips does not ‘have’ to start tomorrow’s last 16 clash for England against Germany - but I think he should.
The Leeds United midfielder has done as much as he possibly could to count himself as definitely in the reckoning to start.
He is the only outfield player to have played every minute of all three of England’s group stage games and that’s amazing.
If he does start, this will be another huge test in his career so far but he has been exemplary so far.
There were question marks about the whole of the England team in the first game against Croatia and the goalless draw against Scotland was then seen as a huge coup for Scotland.
But Scotland have gone home and England are still there so it becomes a bit academic when you are discussing performances like that.
Given what England have done and what Kalvin has done so far, he should absolutely be in the reckoning to start, not that there’s an expectation because he is still finding his feet as an international player.
But he will be quietly confident of being in the XI given what we have seen from him in the tournament.
Kalvin is a very humble and ego-free player which means he understands his role within a side.
That’s not to say that he can’t play in a more advanced role because I am fully on board with the fact that he can play further up the pitch and create and be an attacking force.
But with the greatest respect, you have to look at both the Leeds team he plays in and also the England team and realise there are better players that do that.
That’s just the same as him being better defensively than Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling or Mason Mount.
That’s the way you have got to categorise how good you are, play to what you are very good at and be in a position where you can bring the best parts of yourself to the best parts of the team.
That reflects very selflessly on him and that’s Kalvin.
There is a lot of discussion about England having two ‘defensive midfielders’ but that’s not to say that one hasn’t got a license to get forward and supplement the attack.
Harry Kane needs to come to the fore but if you look at what Jack Grealish did against the Czech Republic and also Bukayo Saka coming into the side then there’s a lot to really be quite positive about.
There’s a certain element of people who want England to go all out attack but you can’t do that at this level.
England are quietly going about navigating the tournament really well so far and now it’s a case of straight knockout.
I can see the merits for playing just Kalvin and I can see the merits for playing just Declan.
I can also see the merits for playing both of them together.
But the lads in front of them and the offensive part of the team need to be afforded the freedom to do their job and manage to do that.
The game will be tough for England but it’s absolutely surmountable.
A lot of conjecture comes from discussing the way Gareth Southgate approaches games and the way that England have performed in these games.
But they got through their group as winners without conceding a goal whereas with Germany there has not been the usual reliance and reliability from them in their group games.
There’s been a chaotic approach given the usual make up of a Germany side under a manager who is moving on after the tournament.
The Hungary game was very topsy-turvy and England have got to go into the game extremely confident from what we have seen so far.
You can look at what Italy are doing and what we have seen from France.
Holland have also had a 100 per cent record in getting through the group and they are ones who always seem to flatter to deceive at the very top level.
But England have home comforts and the potential of being in a final at Wembley.
There is an emphasis on development and younger players and transition and building and all that type of stuff.
But at some stage you have got to build towards something and something has got to be topped off.
The home advantage is not the traditional home advantage of having 90 thousand screaming fans within the national stadium.
But given the dynamics of the tournament so far and the ability to maximise home advantage, it’s as good a time as any to take advantage of what they have got in their favour.
I’m not saying it is a failure if they don’t get to the final or a failure if they don’t go on and win it.
But the England team contains players that play for very big football clubs and know exactly what it is like to win stuff.
There’s no reason why that cannot be transported into a European Championships-winning national side.
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Thank you Laura Collins