'No words' - Kalvin Phillips makes Jude Bellingham admission as Leeds United midfielder provides England fitness update

KALVIN Phillips knows all about bursting on to the scene at an early age.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 11:08 am
Updated Sunday, 6th June 2021, 1:20 pm

Leeds United's 'Yorkshire Pirlo' was 19 when making his Whites debut and had amassed 100 appearances by the time he was 22.

Three years later, he is an England international.

But at eight years younger so too is Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Phillips admits he has never seen a player with such talent at such a young age.

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HUGE PRAISE: For 17-year-old England international midfielder Jude Bellingham, above, from his Three Lions team mate and Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.

The Whites midfielder even admits Bellingham is more talented than him.

Both players are heading for this summer's Euros after being included in Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate's final 26-man squad for the tournament which begins next Friday.

England will complete their preparations with Sunday evening's friendly against Romania at The Riverside (kick-off 5pm) in which a now fully fit Phillips could bag his eighth cap for his country.

Phillips feared he might be out of contention for the Euros when dislocating his shoulder in United's season finale at home to West Brom but the 25-year-old made a swift recovery and was included in Southgate's initial 33-man long list two days later.

The Whites midfielder then made the cut as Southgate reduced his squad to a final 26 which also includes 17-year-old Dortmund star Bellingham, signed by the German giants from Championship outfit Birmingham City for an initial £25m last July.

Just short of one year on, Bellingham made his full England debut in Wednesday evening's friendly against Austria and Phillips has issued the young midfielder with the ultimate praise.

The duo might even line up together at some point during the Euros in the middle of the park.

"I’ve definitely not (seen) a 17-year-old that is as talented as what he is," said Phillips of Bellingham.

“I don’t even think I am as talented as he is to be honest with you.

"He is a great player, a great lad as well and he has got the world at his feet.

“Honestly, there are no words to describe how talented he is.

"As you can see throughout his career at Birmingham and then his move to Dortmund, which is a massive move for a kid so young.

“The way he has performed in certain games in the Champions League against Manchester City, just on the highest stage.

“It was like he was ready to be there already for a kid so young at 17, you look at him and you can’t quite believe that he’s 17 years old, you can’t believe because he’s so big, he’s so strong, so powerful.

“He’s a very nice lad as well so it’s nice to rub shoulders with a young lad who is doing so well and now the sky’s the limit for him.”

Bellingham effectively lined up in the no 8 position for last week's friendly against Austria as West Ham United's Declan Rice played the central defensive midfield role in which Phillips best excels.

Phillips was an unused substitute in addition to Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson who is the other main option in centre midfield as part of the Euros squad but the Reds skipper has not played since February due to a groin injury.

Asked about his own fitness and if he would be fully fit to face Romania on Sunday, Phillips said: "Yes, definitely.

"My shoulder is good and I feel very confident in it now. I actually did think I was going to miss the Euros but my recovery has been excellent.

"The staff here (with England) and at the club have been excellent with me and I'm very grateful for that."

Phillips is expected to start alongside Henderson in midfield against Romania, assuming the Liverpool captain's groin is okay.

Rice and Bellingham are the other options within the Euros squad but former Leeds loanee Ben White - a good friend of Phillips' - can also play in midfield and he is expected to be involved against Romania.

Southampton's James-Ward Prowse is another able to play in the middle of the park.

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Thank you Laura Collins