Leeds United: Kalvin Phillips injury could be good news for club if not country

LEEDS UNITED midfielder Kalvin Phillips’s withdrawal from the latest England squad may not be particularly welcome news for his country – but for many supporters of his club, it might just be viewed differently.

England's Kalvin Phillips. Picture: Justin Tallis/PA Wire.

The 25-year-old, voted as England men’s senior player of the year for 2021, has been ruled out of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary with a minor calf injury sustained in Saturday’s victory over Watford at Elland Road.

Phillips was assessed following Leeds’s much-needed win and he was not deemed fit enough to join up with the Three Lions’ squad.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He is not expected to miss any games for Leeds, who resume their Premier League season at Southampton on October 16.

Phillips – capped 17 times by England following his debut in September 2020 – has been replaced in the squad by Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.

United’s 1-0 triumph over Watford secured a much-needed first victory of the top-flight campaign and moved them up to 16th place in the table and ended the club’s worst start to a season since 1935.

That fixture against the Hornets represented Phillips’s 18th appearance for club and country since the summer when he was an ever-present in England’s run to the final of Euro 2020.

He was the only outfield member of Gareth Southgate’s squad to play every minute of the group stage and missed just 25 minutes of action in the tournament – coming off in the second half of the last 16 clash against Ukraine to avoid a potential suspension.

Last season, the Leeds-born player made 38 appearances ahead of representing England in his first experience of a major international tournament.

A brief break in his schedule could have the benefit of refreshing Phillips for some important club matches in the next block of Premier League matches for Leeds, who face Saints, Wolves, Norwich and Leicester before the next international break in November – alongside a Carabao Cup tie at Arsenal.

News of Phillips’s injury comes after Chelsea’s Reece James was forced to pull out on Monday.

The 21-year-old suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City last month and has missed their last two games.

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling insists plaudits are not enough for England’s players as they target silverware after their agonising defeat in the Euro 2020 final.

The Three Lions were a penalty shoot-out away from winning a first trophy since the 1966 World Cup before being edged out by Italy at Wembley in July.

The Manchester City forward looks back on the summer with a mix of pride and regret and says Southgate’s side “want to make history”.

He said: “You still have people saying congratulations or something and it’s like... there’s not much to congratulate as we didn’t win.

“That’s the great thing within the squad, we’re not happy with doing well and putting on a show for the country, we genuinely wanted to come home with that trophy and that’s the mentality in the squad now.

“It was class, we went to the final but we want to win, we want to make history, and I think that’s the message since day one when Gareth came in.”

England visit Andorra on Saturday before hosting Hungary at Wembley next Tuesday.

The Three Lions are four points clear at the top of Group I after winning five and drawing one of their opening six matches.