5 England midfielders better than Kalvin Phillips
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5 England midfielders better than Kalvin Phillips

22/06/24 09:32

5 England midfielders better than Kalvin Phillips

After England’s poor performance in a 1-1 draw with Denmark on Thursday, Gareth Southgate made a questionable comment about a previous starting midfielder for the Three Lions. In his post match press conference, the England manager said: “We know we don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips”. With that comment in mind, here is a list of five midfielders who we think are better than Kalvin Phillips.

1. Kobbie Mainoo

The 19-year-old Manchester United starlet has had a fantastic breakthrough season which has seen him score five goals and get one assist from midfield, including a goal to secure the Red Devils the win in the FA Cup final against Manchester City. You would think that the fact that Gareth Southgate has picked this player, regardless of his age, means he thinks that he is good enough to be there, so why not play him more and give him a chance to prove himself?

Mainoo is capable of tracking back, holding, attacking and threading passes together, there’s not much more you can ask for from a midfielder, and he definitely could fill the gap that Southgate claimed has been left open by the omission of Phillips. For such a young player, Mainoo shows such confidence and composure on the ball, something that English midfielders so far this tournament have been somewhat lacking.

2. Adam Wharton

Another youngster who has been trusted by Southgate this far, but not being played on the big stage. Crystal Palace’s Adam Wharton has risen to the top faster than anyone we’ve seen before, only making his Premier League debut back in February. Once again if Southgate has kept him in the 26 man squad, then he clearly thinks he is good enough to be there, so give him a chance.

With it clearly not working, playing Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield, the key solution is to play someone who is used to playing all of their football as a midfielder - a specialist in that position. Wharton is one of three players currently sitting on the bench each match for England who falls under this category, and perhaps Southgate should try him out before complaining that they don’t have a replacement for Phillips.

3. Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A man whose name has barely come up in talks about the England squad for this summer is AC Milan’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The ex-Chelsea man has shown huge promise in the Serie A this season, scoring 10 goals from his midfield position. It wouldn’t be the first time that he would’ve played for England, he already has 10 caps. Also, he has already travelled to a major tournament with the Three Lions before, so he is experienced with this type of situation. If Southgate wanted to use someone a bit older than the two previous players mentioned for some more experience, Loftus-Cheek is a very good option to have.

4. Cole Palmer

A man who people are screaming to use is the Premier League player of the month for April, Cole Palmer. The 22-year-old came second in the race for the golden boot this season, scoring 22 goals, just five behind Erling Haaland, and although he does tend to play on the wing, he is more than capable of playing as a number 10, which he has shown this season.

There was so much talk about the inclusion of Palmer being certain for the EUROs, but now that he’s here, he isn’t being given any game time. How can Southgate say we don’t have a replacement for Phillips when he isn’t even trying out all of the huge talents we have sat on the bench?

5. Curtis Jones

Finally, a man who was cut out of the provisional squad to make it 26, Liverpool’s Curtis Jones. It didn’t come as much of a surprise that Jones didn’t make the 26-man-squad, having not made an appearance for England before. However, we have clearly seen from his performances at Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp that he is a very adaptable, dynamic and versatile player, who could definitely help solve some of Southgate’s midfield troubles.

The 23-year-old already has 86 Premier League appearances, so there is no lack of experience at the top level. He has played in the top competitions, including the Champions League, and already has several trophies to his name, including multiple Carabao cups, the FA Cup, and a Premier League winning medal. This is simply not a name you can overlook if you are going to claim you don’t have good options in midfield.

Whilst we understand that Southgate’s comment was not regarding the Kalvin Phillips of late, with his poor loan spell at West Ham, it was regarding the man who won our player of the year back in 2021 when we got to the EUROs final, we found it important to highlight all of the midfield options that are available now, and not to dwell in past tournaments.

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Lily Perrill

Writer

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