'That's not really what I do' - Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips reflects on England role and his 'ingredients' for Three Lions

LEEDS United midfielder Kalvin Phillips is doing his job for England - and is backing the Three Lions attackers to do theirs.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 2:58 pm

Phillips is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of all three of England's group stage games at this summer's European Championships.

The Three Lions are now heading for a last 16 clash against bitter rivals Germany at Wembley on Tuesday evening - and the England midfield and attacking options remains a hot topic of discussion.

Phillips started all three of England's Group D encounters alongside West Ham's Declan Rice in midfield but was deployed in a more advanced position than the holding role he fulfils for his club.

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BACKING: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, left, with two of the Three Lions attacking players in Bukayo Saka, centre, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, right, who is yet to feature. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images.
BACKING: Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, left, with two of the Three Lions attacking players in Bukayo Saka, centre, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, right, who is yet to feature. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images.

Rice instead sat deep apart from in the second half of the group stages finale against the Czech Republic in which Phillips reverted to the central defensive midfield role after Jordan Henderson replaced Rice during the break.

There have been calls in some quarters for Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to field another more attacking option in the middle of the park but Phillips says he is in the team to perform a specific role.

Despite setting up the only goal of the game for Raheem Sterling in England's opening fixture against Croatia, Phillips also insists he is not a no 8.

"When I play I just try and leave everything out on the pitch," said Phillips.

"I'm a very physical player, I try to get around the pitch and win as many balls back for the team.

"With the attacking players, my job is more to give them the ingredients to go and express themselves.

"I do my job there's no reason why they shouldn't. We've got some brilliant attackers.

"I see two hours of them every single day, I can tell you they're very confident and just waiting for the chance to put their name out there."

Phillips added: "I'm a defensive player anyway, more things I do will be defensive than attacking.

"In the Croatia game I got an assist so everyone is thinking I'm going to be a number eight, getting assists every game, but that's not really what I do.

"I'm winning the ball back and giving the ball to the better players.

"I don't really feel defensive but the way the manager sets up, he wants us to protect the back four and with not conceding a goal it shows how well we are doing."

England are yet to concede a goal at this summer's Euros as a 1-0 victory against Croatia and goalless draw against Scotland was followed by another 1-0 success against the Czech Republic, with all three fixtures played at Wembley.

The Three Lions finished top of their group and another date at Wembley now awaits against Group F runners-up Germany.

Phillips added: "I think the games were difficult games, we could have done a little bit better. It's up to the manager who he picks, it's down to us expressing ourselves."

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Thank you Laura Collins