Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips is better on the ball than Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and West Ham’s Declan Rice.
That’s according to former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who is backing Phillips for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the delayed European Championships this summer, with a decision on who goes to the tournament moving ever closer to being made.
It was a productive March international break for Phillips, who started all three of England’s games as they made a perfect start to their qualifying campaign for next year’s World Cup.
Now however, attention turns back to the Euros this summer, where after his recent run in the Three Lions side, Phillips will be hoping to be among the 23-man squad named by Southgate to compete for continental glory.
With Liverpool’s Henderson a doubt for the tournament due to injury, it was Rice – who missed West Ham’s 3-2 win over Wolves on Monday with an injury of his own – who Phillips lined up alongside for England in those recent internationals.
Now it seems that of that trio, Neville believes that Phillips is the one most capable of making a contribution to the side while in possession.
Speaking on Sky Sports Monday Night Football (05/04, 11:05pm) about who ought to be going to, and starting at, the Euros, the ex-England international said: “Kalvin Phillips is better at passing the ball through the lines at Leeds.
“Henderson and Rice are good on the ball, but I think Phillips is the best out of the three on the ball in terms of accepting the ball and getting it off the back four.”
Discussing the significance of that to England, Neville went on to add: “It has become a really important area for England to connect the back to the front. They’ve struggled over many, many years to be able to do that and get the ball through the midfield. Kalvin Phillips, under Bielsa, is used to getting on the ball all the time.
“Half-turn, pops it through the lines, into the likes of Mount, Rashford, Foden, Sterling – all those players who might play. So for me, I would go for Phillips alongside Rice [to start at Euro 2021].”
This seem to be encouraging for Phillips when it comes to his chances of getting a chance with England this summer.
It is often suggested that Phillips does not offer enough for England, in terms of the outlet and supply he offers in the role he plays.
Neville however, feels that it is in fact the opposite to that, and if he is of that belief, then others, such as Southgate himself, may also feel the same.
Indeed, Southgate certainly seemed to be impressed with Phillips during the last international break, so it does seem as though his chances of a place in England’s Euros squad are relatively strong, particularly with injuries to others in that position, and it would certainly be deserved on the basis of his performances this season.