He made the comments before Phillips took to the field for his England bow against Denmark, and Neville then added during the match that both Phillips and Declan Rice ‘didn’t need each other’ in the middle of the park because they are like-minded players
Gareth Southgate opted to play a back three in the UEFA Nations League contest, with the Leeds and West Ham duo playing as the only midfielders – the Three Lions lacked creativity and had to settle for a dour goalless draw.
At first, Neville shared how impressed he was of Phillips when he first watched him play live last season before he commented on his display on debut.
“I watched him live last season for the first time when he played against Salford in a League Cup game and he was absolutely outstanding in that game,” Neville told Sky Sports. “You can imagine it was a different level. He completely controlled the game.
“So, 12 months later I am watching him play for England. I don’t think he will have a problem adapting to international football, I think it will suit him.
Leeds United’s first six fixtures of 2020/21
Sheffield United (A)
Manchester City (H)
Aston Villa (A)
“He might even find it easier [because of] the way he plays [compared to] Premier League football where he will be targetted. Where people will want to stop him playing.
On his performance: “I think Phillips and Rice don’t need each other next to each other because there’s no mobility in there to move off the line. Everything is a straight line. And the last thing you want in football is straight lines – they are playing very square to each other.”
Things will get very interesting for Phillips because he now has the chance to take his game to the next level when he comes up against the elite, starting with the champions of England in Liverpool on Saturday.
Equally, if he is able to produce consistent performances then he can challenge for that holding role for England, which is seemingly up for grabs.
Whilst Rice has been a regular for some while, he is yet to cement his place in the middle of the park and it will be interesting to see how Phillips is used by his national manager in the long run.