Kalvin Phillips admits that some of his England teammates were too hot to handle during England’s Euro 2020 training camp – and the Leeds talisman had no troubles namedropping two Manchester United stars in his picks.
The Leeds midfielder played a starring role at Euro 2020 as the Three Lions reached their first major tournament final in 55 years. While England were ultimately defeated by Italy in a penalty shoot-out in the final, they can be proud of their efforts. And they hope to carry on their fine form when they resume their World Cup qualifiers with three matches early next month.
Phillips made his intentions clear when outlining his next targets with the Three Lions.
Reflecting on his summer with England, Phillips admits he took a while to feel comfortable among some of his big-name peers.
Indeed, Gareth Southgate plays a lot of five-a-side drills during training. These are both popular with the players and seen as a great way to sharpen up close-range skills.
But when asked to name his ultimate five-a-side team, Phillips was quick to highlight three men – and two from Man Utd – in particular.
He said: “The first day we came here, we did this session. A three vs three. It was me, Luke Shaw and Ben White against Sancho, Rashford and Jordan Henderson. They absolutely blew us away.
“We were doing like five hours of different games and stuff, but they were just too good. I’m going to have to go with them.”
In the end, Phillips became a regular in the side under Southgate.
Only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and John Stones played more minutes for England at the Euros than Phillips.
And he admits he was taken aback by the faith shown in him by the England chief.
“It was a massive surprise,” Phillips said. “I knew I’d done well in the games before the Euros. But I didn’t really know if I was going to play or not, I was just happy to be there.
“Then once you get the first taste you just want to keep playing more and more. The manager showed a lot of faith in me, even changing my position. I’m grateful for that and very happy he did to be fair.
“Last season was obviously so good for me and the (Leeds) team. Finishing ninth in the Premier League shows how well we did and that gave me the chance to play for England.
“I got the nod from Gareth Southgate and I’m very grateful for that. Hopefully I can keep getting into the squad.”
Bielsa olive branch for Ian Poveda
Ian Poveda, meanwhile, will be given the chance to salvage his Leeds career during his season on loan at Blackburn.
The 21-year-old was given plenty of game time in this summer’s pre-season. And it was thought he might play a part in first-team proceedings. However, reports emerged of a falling out between the youngster and Marcelo Bielsa.
And on Monday evening, he secured a move to Ewood Park as a result of his fall from grace.
However, rather than cast him adrift completely, Leeds hope Poveda can earn redemption and further his game during his year at Blackburn.
“We feel Ian can make an impact here in the future and we’ve been very impressed with how Blackburn have developed players such as Harvey Elliott at Liverpool,” director of football Victor Orta said.
“We hope Ian can get some game time and come back to us next season ready to fight.”