Jose Mourinho has told TalkSPORT (Friday, 7.35AM) why it is crucial Gareth Southgate continues to place his faith in Kalvin Phillips against Italy on Sunday. Leeds ace Phillips is set to partner Declan Rice in midfield once again, in the Euro 2020 final. Mourinho thinks Leeds star Phillips should start for England, once again.
Phillips, 25, only made his England debut around 12 months ago after a brilliant campaign with Leeds. Since then, he has become a regular with England, clocking up 14 caps for his country and starting all six matches at Euro 2020. it is expected to be seven on Sunday.
Whether Phillips should be in the starting XI was questioned before the tournament, but his outing in the win over Croatia saw him win fans over. Now, Mourinho has urged Southgate to keep faith with Rice and Phillips in the middle of the park – to combat Italy’s superb engine room.
“Looking at the way Italy plays I don’t see a reason to change. Italy’s power is in midfield, these three players – Barella, Jorginho and Verratti – is where they have the power. That midfield is the engine of the team, the midfield players are better than the attacking players,” Mourinho said.
“It is there that they have all the control of the games. I don’t see England in any need of playing a back five. I see England in a great need of keeping that great couple of Rice and Phillips, because it is there that the game is will be won or lost in terms of more dominance of less dominance.”
How will England line-up against Italy – after Mourinho claim on Leeds star Phillips?
England were excellent against Denmark. In what was their first setback of the tournament going 1-0 down to the Danes, they roared back in front of 60,000 at Wembley. Bukayo Saka was excellent again, as was Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. But against Germany, they went to a back three.
Against Italy, that may be the case again. If so, Saka and Sterling are likely to feature either side of Kane, with Rice and Phillips in midfield. Kyle Walker would revert to the three-man defence, meaning Kieran Tripper is most-likely to come in for Mason Mount. Luke Shaw, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Jordan Pickford would all retain their places.