Leeds United fans have taken to Twitter to rally around Kalvin Phillips following Jermaine Pennant’s criticism of his England call-up. 

The 24-year-old Elland Road favourite was given his first acknowledgement at senior international level earlier in the week when Gareth Southgate included him in his squad for the Three Lions’ upcoming UEFA Nations League clashes against Iceland and Denmark.

But the decision was not a popular one with ex-Whites winger Pennant.

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Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: “I’m taking out Kalvin Phillips.

“The reason being there’s a big difference between the Championship and the Premier League and there’s a big difference again between the Premier league and international football.

“You can’t pick someone for your national team based on a season in the Championship, that’s just my personal opinion.”

Naturally, that opinion didn’t go over well with Leeds fans, or with The Athletic journalist Phil Hay for that matter.

Writing on his own Twitter account, the trusted reporter said: “Jeez, this whole ‘he’s been playing in the Championship’ thing is so reductive.

“It’s hardly like Southgate randomly stuck a pin in a map.

“He’s been watching Phillips for two years”.

Supporters then backed Hay by jumping to Phillips’ defence, and rightly so.

The midfielder has been superlative in recent seasons, and to rule him out of the international setup because he isn’t playing at the highest level is elitist and blinkered.

By that measure, you could argue that any player playing in a European top flight that isn’t at the same level as the Premier League should also be dropped from the setup.

It’s ridiculous, quite frankly.

Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid when Mason Mount was called up during his loan spell with Derby County, and in a lot of ways Phillips’ inclusion makes more sense right now.

The player also qualifies to play for Jamaica, and giving him a senior cap would secure his future with the English national side.

Even taking that into account, this is not some kind of philanthropic gesture from Southgate.

He clearly believes that Phillips can be an England international – whether that be right now or further down the line.

Given a choice between Pennant’s opinion and the opinion of a man who guided his country to a World Cup semi-final, we know who we’re trusting.

Here are some of the best tweets from disgruntled Leeds fans:

In other Leeds United news, the Whites are considering this Premier League goalkeeper with senior exit on the cards.

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