Several factors in England debate surrounding Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford - David Prutton

THERE’S A perception that England have two defensive midfielders at the heart of their team in Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips and West Ham’s Declan Rice.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 4:45 am

Fans are seeing England line up in such a way against teams – like Scotland on Friday night – that they should be beating quite routinely.

Phillips and Rice played the full match together in England’s opening game of the Euros against Croatia who are probably in a little bit of a transition period.

That game produced a close contest in which a wonderful assist by Kalvin set up Raheem Sterling for the only goal of the game.

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SELECTION DEBATE: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, centre, holds off Scotland's Stuart Armstrong, left, as Three Lions substitute Jack Grealish, right, looks on. Photo by Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images.

But Friday night’s clash against Scotland was always going to be full of blood and thunder and a game in which Scotland found a way to play to ensure they stayed in the contest for as long as possible.

They did exactly that and came away from Wembley with a very-hard earned point.

From Kalvin and Declan’s point of view, you have got two very good footballers there but do we need two defensive midfielders or holding midfielders shall we say?

Possibly not.

But that’s not to say that it’s as simple as just playing one of them and chucking Jack Grealish in as you can’t completely throw caution to the wind.

But there is very much scope to evolve and it should be remembered that Kalvin and Declan have not been playing together for years in these particular roles and the England team is also a young side.

You could class it as teething problems and I would hesitate to say you get to the point where you are looking at a Stephen Gerrard and Frank Lampard situation.

The great debate with those two world class players was why couldn’t they play better together more consistently for England over the course of their time together?

That was a great conundrum and the situation with Phillips and Rice is not quite on that level.

But you have got two very, very good players that fit into one gap and when that is the case then one misses out.

It’s tough but it was always going to be tough against Scotland because tactically they approached it in a different way.

They had to react to how they were against the Czech Republic and you can’t take away the emotion of the game with fans inside the building.

It was always going to be a tough game but if England have any aspirations of going deep into the tournament then with the greatest respect they have got to be beating Scotland.

Harry Kane was taken off for Marcus Rashford and Kane’s display has reignited the debate about whether Leeds striker Patrick Bamford should have been in the squad.

When you break this down and you have the benefit of hindsight you are looking at a player in Harry who has looked a little bit sluggish and a little bit off the pace.

But that is against his astronomical high standards. He has been England’s main man for such a long period of time now and a man that they can always rely on.

As such, it concerns the fans and the management alike the minute he drops off it slightly.

That is because you are relying on a player to score a lot of goals because he has scored a lot of goals before. It’s only human nature.

It’s not like England have been banking on him when he has not been pulling up trees for a long period of time.

He’s had a sluggish start to the tournament and you get the feeling that with his levels of professionalism and the heights that he has scaled that he will click into gear at some stage.

It does raise the point of Patrick Bamford not being part of the squad but it’s a case of what ifs with Harry not hitting the ground running.

Perhaps something fitness wise is having an effect on Harry.

But you are not just looking at a striker that is not in form and it’s not just his game.

You also look at the provisions around him.

What we get so used to watching with Harry is how quick he is on the ball, how quick he is in motion on the ball and how sharp he is.

That’s not been there so far but you have got to give him a little bit of rope because of what he has done for England.

If you are Leeds fan then you are saying that Patrick should be there but on the flip side look at what Harry has done for England for a longer period of time.

You have to try and maintain perspective but I can absolutely understand the shouts for why wouldn’t you take another body up top to be able to alleviate the burden.

One thing we know about Patrick is that he works his socks off.

He can work on his own, he can work with players around him and he would be a great option for Gareth but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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Thank you Laura Collins