With England largely sailing through their European Championship qualifying stage and topping it off in some fashion (for those interested) during the November international break with a 7-0 victory over Montenegro and a 4-0 victory over Kosovo – there are some questions still to answer.
On a defensive front, some already believe that on loan Brighton and Hove Albion youngster Ben White is worth a shot in the heart of defence, and now Danny Higginbotham has thrown his weight behind key midfielder Kalvin Phillips as being the answer for the middle of the park.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday evening after the game, whilst he certainly wasn’t proposing our 23-year-old as being an automatic starter for manager Gareth Southgate, he failed to see why he couldn’t take a closer look at him next March and have him around the group as a possible option.
“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. 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.”
Higginbotham went on to address the fact that Southgate rarely calls up players who aren’t playing in the Premier League, but he didn’t think that should stop him.
“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. 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.”
It’s obviously not the first time Phillips has been suggested for England duty given his talents and improvement under Marcelo Bielsa, but I think most agree – that although Higginbotham is right in many ways – he’s not going to get a call until he’s a division higher.
Premier League Or Not - Does Phillips Deserve An England Call?