England legend Ashley Cole has suggested that Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips is a limited player in terms of his creativity in the middle of the park.
The Lowdown: Phillips shines for Leeds
Few players, if any, have been more influential for Leeds during the Marcelo Bielsa era, with the 25-year-old playing exceptionally in a deep-lying role.
Phillips’ form has seen him called into England’s squad for Euro 2020 this summer, with manager Gareth Southgate hailing him as ‘fabulous’ in the past. The Whites ace could even start the Three Lions’ opener against Croatia on Sunday, especially if Jordan Henderson isn’t deemed fit enough.
The Latest: Cole casts doubt over Whites hero
Speaking on ITV [via MOT Leeds News] after England’s 1-0 win over Romania on Sunday, in which Phillips started, Cole claimed that he and Declan Rice lacked the vision of Henderson, saying: “That’s his strength [Henderson], that ability to play a bit longer which I don’t think the other two have in their locker.”
The 2012 Champions League winner later took to Twitter to defend his comments after a Leeds fan page, vexed by the criticism of Phillips, sent the 40-year-old a video of the Whites player executing an inch-perfect long pass.
Cole retorted: “Now show me where he’s doing that in and around the halfway line to put someone in or create a goal-scoring opportunity? Another question, does Kalvin Phillips play the same or similar role when playing for Leeds as he does for England?”
The Verdict: Hugely unfair criticism
This is hugely unjust criticism from Cole, even if Phillips doesn’t always spray the amount of long-range passes Henderson does.
One pinpoint ball found Jadon Sancho in the first half against Romania, prior to the Borussia Dortmund winger firing over the bar, and he has shown numerous times for Leeds how good he is in possession.
As a comparison, Henderson played an average of 0.7 key passes per game in the Premier League last season, whereas Phillips averaged 1.2, suggesting he is actually the more inventive of the two on the ball.
In other news, a former Leeds player is keen for the Whites to bring in a Premier League attacker this summer. Find out who it is here.
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