Danny Mills has told Marcelo Bielsa that Kalvin Phillips ‘needs’ to start Leeds United’s final three matches of the season to secure a place in the England squad for Euro 2020.
Mills, who played for Leeds for 1999 and 2004, was speaking to Football Insider.
He was a stoppage-time substitute last time out against Spurs, returning from the knee injury he sustained in the goalless draw against Manchester United last month.
Robin Koch has deputised at the base of the Whites’ midfield, and many supporters were delighted with his performance against Tottenham.
Phillips is now pushing a recall as Leeds travel to Burnley on Saturday lunchtime. The 25-year-old knows that a place in the England squad for next month’s European Championships is up for grabs.
Gareth Southgate selected him for the September, October and March squads, and he only missed out in November because he was injured (Transfermarkt).
Mills has said that Phillips must be given the opportunity at Leeds to address any fitness concerns and d he warned that substitute appearances are largely ‘irrelevant’.
Asked if he expected the 25-year-old to be recalled by Bielsa, he told Football Insider: “I hope so.
“I obviously want Kalvin Phillips to go to the Euros. He needs these next three games to say to Gareth Southgate ‘look, I’m fit, I’m over this injury.
“Coming on is sort of irrelevant. It doesn’t say you’re fit or not. If he plays these next three games it shows he’s fit and ready to go to the Euros.
“Declan Rice is out and we’re still not sure of Jordan Henderson. He has a real opportunity, if he can prove his fitness, then he can make this Euros squad.”
It’s clear that Southgate values Phillips given his consistency of selection in recent months. Even if he were to start only the final game of the season, that would probably be enough justification for the England manager.
Another important point to consider, of course, is the danger of demanding 90 minutes too quickly after an injury. Koch’s excellent display last weekend gives Bielsa a dilemma for the Burnley game, although he could perhaps move back into the centre of defence to facilitate a recall for Phillips.
In other news, Leeds have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of this youngster.
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