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Kalvin Phillips became one of the most highly regarded midfielders in England when Marcelo Bielsa took charge of Leeds United. He was so impressive under the Argentine in the Championship that Gareth Southgate called him up for the England squad before he even had any Premier League experience.

Ever since that first appearance for the Three Lions, Phillips has been a mainstay when fit. His performance in the final group game of the World Cup proved why he’s so important for Southgate.

Posted by Kalvin Phillips on Thursday, 17 November 2022

Southgate Has Great Options in Midfield

One of the reasons why England were well favoured to top the group and progress to the latter stages of the World Cup in Qatar was thanks to their seriously strong squad depth. People who bet on England v Senegal will have also noticed that the Three Lions were placed as heavy favourites to win that game and make it to the quarter finals as well. This was thanks to the promising displays shown up to that point.

Since moving to Manchester City in the summer, Phillips has only played one minute of top-flight football. That was in the season opener against West Ham, and he hasn’t been seen in the league since. The fact that Phillips was still picked for the plane to Qatar shows how highly Southgate thinks of him and just how crucial he is for this team.

There’s no doubt that Southgate has other great options in midfield, with Declan Rice also having been a regular for the last few years. Jordan Henderson and Jude Bellingham are excellent players who deserve a place as well. However, it could be argued that Phillips is the best of the lot.

Phillips Can do Rice’s Job and More

When Bielsa took over at Leeds, he was clear that Phillips was the most important player for the team and he needed to keep him if there was any chance of promotion. The tactician moulded the Leeds academy product into a deep-lying midfielder and taught him a range of skills to make him one of the best in the world in the position. He was not only tasked with defending and dropping deep to provide passing options, but he was also required to spray long balls out to the wings to set up attacks.

When Phillips came on against Wales in the place of Rice, he quickly proved that he could do the same job as the Irons man and more. He read the game well to break up any moves from the opposition, but also delivered an excellent long ball to assist Marcus Rashford’s second goal. In the first two group games, John Stones and Harry Maguire rarely had options to pass the ball into midfield, as Rice wasn’t dropping into pockets of space. This is another thing that Phillips does well, and it’s something that England need.

At 27 years of age, Phillips has a long future with England still. As long as Southgate is in charge, his name will be on the team sheet. It would be hard for any future managers to ignore his impressive range of talents as well.