Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has explained that Kalvin Phillips should be very proud of himself, if he’s called up to the England squad by Gareth Southgate. The defensive midfielder has continued to impress this season for Leeds, and has been tipped to earn his first Three Lions cap before Euro 2020.
Phillips is arguably one of the best players in the Championship, and has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs.
Leeds confirmed earlier this season that they had rejected a number of bids for Phillips from top flight clubs, that were in excess of £20million.
After another successful campaign for the Whites, he’s been touted for a space in the England squad ahead of Euro 2020.
Bielsa wouldn’t get drawn into revealing whether he thinks Phillips deserves the call-up, but he admitted that he’d be very proud if it were to happen.
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“It’s something that Leeds, all the club, himself, his team-mates have to be proud of,” said Bielsa, when asked to respond to claims Phillips could make the England squad.
“If that happens, it’s not easy to get it. For this reason, everybody has to be proud.
“If not you became the national team manager! [Laughs].
“I worked as the national team manager in Argentina and Chile, and I didn’t like other managers telling the press which players the national team had to pick so I don’t want to make this mistake.”
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Southgate watched Phillips last month, during the 2-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
It’s believed that the England boss is considering Phillips for a place in the Three Lions’ squad for next month’s friendlies against Italy and Denmark.
Former Manchester United and Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham has backed Phillips to impress for England.
“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,” he said earlier this season.
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“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.
“He 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.
“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.
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“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.”
The 24-year-old midfielder has made 30 Championship appearances this season for Leeds.
He was forced off the pitch with a calf injury against Reading last weekend, but Bielsa expects Phillips to be available for the trip to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.
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