Adam Lallana has hailed the importance of Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips and West Ham man Declan Rice to the current England team.
The two Premier League rivals have started next to each other in all three group stage matches for England at Euro 2020.
They are both all-action central midfielders who have dovetailed well together, with Rice sitting deeper at times to allow Phillips to operate in a box-to-box role.
However, both traditionally tend to play deeper for their respective clubs.
England boss Gareth Southgate has all eyes on him to see who he picks to start next Tuesday. The Three Lions face rivals Germany at Wembley Stadium in the Euros Round of 16.
Phillips and Rice have been the go-to starters for England, so it’ll be intriguing to see if that remains the same now that Jordan Henderson has regained some fitness.
Lallana has given credit to the England pairing ahead of Tuesday:
“With two defensive-minded No 6s in Rice and Phillips the team are compact centrally. Their first instincts are to protect. That is a vital mindset and is backed by peripheral vision, awareness and the athleticism to react. Being adventurous is not discouraged, but it must be calculated against the responsibility to shield if possession is lost. England have benefited from this,” Lallana wrote for The Times.
“These qualities should come to the fore even more now against Germany in the round of 16, with Rice’s ability to break up possession and the robustness of Phillips crucial.”
Phillips and Rice are not glamorous, but key for England
The Phillips-Rice midfield axis has worked in this tournament. Three clean sheets from three games is testament to what they do in front of the defence.
There are many England fans who hate the fact both play, but it’s earning results.
If England play a 4-2-3-1 system, the pairing work effectively. Likewise, Henderson or Jude Bellingham could fit into a similar role.
However, frustration will really kick in if both Phillips and Rice started in a 5-2-3 system.
It could be an option to match up Germany’s system with wing-backs next week, but many want England to get as much of their attacking talent on the pitch as possible.
In other news, Report: Everton in talks with 96-cap international who’s available this summer