England were held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary last night in a World Cup qualifying match in the absence of Leeds United midfielder, Kalvin Phillips.
Leeds fans have watched on with immense pride as Phillips has established himself at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s side. He played a crucial part in helping them reach the final of Euro 2020 and only missed out on the squad this time around due to a calf strain.
In his absence, Phil Foden has dropped into a deeper midfield position, helping England beat Andorra 5-0 over the weekend.
Southgate continued with that experiment last night, as Foden, Declan Rice and Mason Mount formed a midfield trio. England, though, struggled to break down superior opposition to what they had faced a few days earlier.
Gary Lineker’s excitement, then, was premature after he took to Twitter to claim it was a midfield three he’d been waiting to see.
As expected, there were a lot of Leeds fans in the replies, taking aim at his observation:
As Lineker has pointed out in a reply, it’s unfair to judge that midfield on one game, despite the lacklustre display and lack of balance.
However, what Leeds fans appear to have taken offence with here is the fact that Lineker is completely overlooking Phillips.
Phillips has been a big part of what England have done in the last 12 months and, if fit, he would be playing games like this.
He and Rice have struck the perfect balance, allowing a Foden or Mount to press higher up the pitch and influence the final third.
It’s not FIFA and a midfield three containing so much attacking talent piles pressure on Rice (or Phillips if he was in holding midfielder selected).
You can bet that Southgate reverts to Phillips and Rice in next month’s fixtures.