Jose Mourinho has told TalkSPORT (Friday, 9:20AM) that he would start Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips in midfield on Sunday, as England begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia. However, Mourinho believes that Jude Bellingham is the perfect partner for Declan Rice.

Phillips, 25, is in with a shout of starting on Sunday against Croatia – as England open their Euro 2020 account. Jordan Henderson managed 45 minutes against Romania, his first outing since February. Dortmund star Bellingham, of course, is still only 17 years of age – but has been included.

The Leeds midfielder has enjoyed the best 12 months of his career – gaining promotion with the Whites and becoming a regular in the England side. He has played more minutes in World Cup qualifying than any other England player, and is now in the 26-man squad for the Three Lions.

Denmark v England - UEFA Nations League
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Mourinho makes sense when explaining decision to pick Leeds star Phillips

Plenty of talk remains over England’s starting XI. Many believe that Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish all should start – and some suggest Mount could partner Rice in midfield. But Mourinho thinks that if all three are to play – then a solid midfield base is required.

Asked to pick his England starting XI, Mourinho stated that he would start Foden, Mount and Grealish – but as an attacking trio behind Harry Kane in a 4-2-3-1 system. Mourinho believes to incorporate that attacking trio, you need a defensive midfield base and that is why he would start Phillips for England. Nigel Martyn recently told us Phillips might miss out.

“To play with Rice, Bellingham would be perfect. But this first game, Kalvin Phillips with Rice. But I have doubts because Bellingham is the perfect midfielder to play with Rice,” Mourinho said. “Mount as a 10. I would play Foden, Mount and Grealish. That’s why I’m saying Phillips with Rice.”

England v Belgium - UEFA Nations League
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