Kalvin Phillips has earned wholesome praise from Gareth Southgate after he brought up his first year as an England international with a commanding performance in Warsaw.
The Leeds star now has 17 caps to his name and has become a vital member of the Three Lions side. Together with Declan Rice, they have ensured England remain extremely tough to beat and have helped make them one of the world’s most feared international sides.
And despite picking up a harsh early caution in Warsaw, Leeds star Phillips went in to put in a commanding display in the engine room.
And while Poland pegged England back to claim a 1-1 draw, Phillips’ display caught the eye.
He made 12 ball recoveries in the game and controlled the midfield for large periods.
And his vital role for England drew special praise from Southgate, though he insists he always felt the Leeds man capable.
Kalvin Phillips vs. Poland:
83% pass acc.
52/63 succ. passes
29 opposition half passes
12 ball recoveries 🔥
6/7 succ. long passes 👌
4 duels won
4 tackles won
1 yellow card
An outstanding second half. Long passes and recoveries on point. 👏 pic.twitter.com/bEmwG4zmBU
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) September 8, 2021
Phillips plays in a more advanced role with England than he does Leeds. Nonetheless, Southgate likes what he sees a lot.
“He’s been excellent,” the Three Lions boss said.
“The way he has taken to international football, it hasn’t surprised us because what we’d seen with Leeds, even in the Championship, we felt could convert into our team. We felt he could play an important role with us.
“To play in the enormity of the matches he did in the summer and play as well as he did is massive credit to him.
“He’s a very, very good player and he’s been a really important part of this – we’re 16 games unbeaten [in regulation time] now and he’s been a huge part of that.”
Southgate defends lack of England subs
Despite his excellent display, plenty felt England’s failure to make a substitution in the game enabled Poland – who made five – to claw their way back into the game.
Explaining his reasoning, Southgate still thinks his players “controlled” proceedings in the second half, despite finding some areas to critique.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was no surprise that this was the hardest game in the group. Early in the game, we were a little slow to move the ball and Poland pressed us well.
“We got caught in our own half a few times but we recovered well and defended those situations well. As the half wore on we started to get a grip of the game and gain more control without making really any clear chances – other than Harry Kane’s header at the far post.
“In the second half we controlled the game. If there’s a criticism it’s that we didn’t create enough clear chances from that possession and we didn’t get enough players in the box.
“While it’s 1-0 you run the risk of what happened at the end. We’re clearly disappointed not to get the three points but I have to look at what the players have done across these three matches.
“Given that there was no way of telling how they would react after what happened in the [Euro 2020 final], I think their mentality and application has been really good.”