By Mark Smith

4th Nov, 2021 | 2:40pm

Gareth Southgate thrilled by Kalvin Phillips impact in England squad

Gareth Southgate has been thrilled by the impact of Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips for England in the past year.

The Three Lions boss has included the Yorkshire Pirlo in his squad for this months’ games after he missed the previous call-up through injury.

Southgate insisted that Phillips has been one of his best players over the past year, including at the EUROs over the summer.

Speaking on Sky Sports this afternoon, Southgate has responded to questions on Phillips’ return to the squad.

“Well, I think it’s just over a calendar year since he first played for us,” he said.

“His contribution to the team and his impact on the team has been huge, so we’re of course always keen that we’ve got our best players available, and he’s certainly been in that category over the past 12 months.”

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Who else has had a bigger impact in their first year of international football? We can’t think of an immediate answer.

Declan Rice has also been superb, and that relationship in midfield has been one of the major reasons behind our success.

Phillips was handed the England Player of the Year award too, and that is just one of the accolades he is expected to receive throughout his international career.

Southgate is clearly a massive fan, and that is another hint that he will be expected to start against San Marino and Albania next week.

Thankfully, this is the last break until 2022, and we will get Phillips all to ourselves at Elland Road for the next three or four months.

In other Leeds United news, Paul Merson has dropped a huge transfer claim on one Whites star with an imminent exit on the cards