Kalvin Phillips said he would not mind if he makes just one England appearance following his surprise call-up for the Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark.
The 24-year-old has been an impressive presence at the heart of Leeds United’s midfield for the past four seasons in the Championship and was instrumental in their promotion to the Premier League for the 2020-21 campaign.
Gareth Southgate’s decision to call him up means Phillips could be the first Leeds United player to feature for England since Alan Smith in March 2004.
England travel to Iceland on September 5 before taking on Denmark in Copenhagen three days later and, while admitting he wants to feature for his country as many times as possible, Phillips concedes he will be a happy man even if he just plays once for the Three Lions.
“I’m over the moon,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s massive news for me, my family, and the club. I’m very happy and it’s great to be given the opportunity.
“Gareth said he’d been tracking me for a while and liked the way I play. I wasn’t expecting to get into the England squad before the season has even started; I thought it would take a while. Maybe I got lucky, I don’t know!
1 – Kalvin Phillips could become the first Leeds United player to play for the England men’s senior team since Alan Smith in March 2004 (v Sweden). Marching. pic.twitter.com/Bn7xIbxVnm
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 25, 2020
“I’m a player that doesn’t take anything for granted. Hopefully I’ll do well and get as many games as possible. Even if it’s one game, I don’t mind!”
Southgate says he has been a long-time admirer of Phillips and believes he will provide healthy competition in the middle of the pitch for his side.
“He is a player we have watched a lot in the last 12 months with Leeds,” Southgate told a news conference.
“The position he plays is one where we need competition for places. It’s an exciting moment for him.
“I spoke to him this morning, which was a nice reminder of what it means for somebody to be in their first England squad. It’s a proud moment for him, his family and his club.”
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