Danny Higginbotham has urged England boss Gareth Southgate to select Kalvin Phillips as his holding midfielder and reckons the Leeds star is superior to current options Declan Rice and Harry Winks.
The Leeds star was subject of a rejected £20m+ approach over the summer following the Whites failure to secure promotion, before he was rewarded with a bumper new five-year deal, tying him to Elland Road until summer 2024.
However, Phillips has continued his magnificent form this season as Leeds resume their Championship promotion battle this weekend from third place in the table – with Phillips’ magnificent form now seeing him mentioned as a transfer target for Manchester United.
And it is those eye-catching displays from his deep-lying position that Sky Sports pundit Higginbotham reckons marks him out as a magnificent option for England and Southgate ahead of Euro 2020.
Higginbotham suggests that Phillips is ‘outstanding’, possessing great positional sense, tackling and distribution, and thinks Southgate should give Phillips a call-up, especially given that he called up Mason Mount whilst playing at Derby last season.
“Gareth Southgate has switched between Declan Rice and Harry Winks in this holding position — but for me it is still up for grabs ahead of next summer,” Higginbotham said. “Looking outside the current squad, there are not exactly many English defensive midfielders excelling in the Premier League. But in Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips I see someone who could force his way into Southgate’s reckoning..
“The 23-year-old has been outstanding for Marcelo Bielsa’s side and has a number of really good attributes. I like his positional sense, he’s a very good tackler, and his distribution both long and short is fantastic.”
“Yes, Phillips has never played in the Premier League. But I don’t have an issue with that at all — there were plenty of clubs in for him over the summer and he would undoubtedly be playing in the top tier now if Leeds hadn’t done everything to keep hold of him. And in calling up Mason Mount last October when he was on loan at Derby from Chelsea, Southgate has shown he is not afraid to select a Championship player.”
Higgingbotham continued: “The Three Lions don’t play again until March — if Phillips continues in this current vein of form then I see no reason why he shouldn’t be involved.
“I’m not saying he should be brought in as first choice. But in a position which is yet to be locked down, Phillips is well worth having a look at,” he added.