England find themselves in need of at least a draw tomorrow against the Czech Republic to guarantee qualification through the group stage of the European Championship.
Noel Whelan would not tolerate some firing criticism Kalvin Phillips’ way, however, with the 46-year-old accusing the Leeds United midfielder’s critics of not watching him play.
“He didn’t get forward enough. There weren’t those areas to run into and he didn’t dictate the play like we expected,” the commentator told Football Insider.
“It wasn’t a great game. Scotland played exceptionally well and we were flat on the evening.
“Phillips will always get singled out. That’s the way it is because he’s playing for Leeds United and we’ve just come up from the Championship.
“Everyone is always going to have an opinion on who should or shouldn’t be in the side, especially when you put in a poor performance.
“But look, Gareth Southgate is the manager and has picked him because he sees something in him after watching him week in, week out.
“The people who criticise him probably don’t even watch him. They probably watch Declan Rice or Jordan Henderson.”
With the Englishman’s teammates looking just as – if not more – lethargic in The Three Lions’ dour stalemate with Steve Clarke’s Scotland outfit, Gareth Southgate’s men will need to collectively demonstrate their credentials for the Euros crown tomorrow.
Coming up against the Czech Republic, England have a great opportunity to silence their critics and make a statement in their bid to book their way through to the knockout stages.
Should Phillips produce the kind of performance fans were treated to in the national side’s 1-0 victory over Croatia, Southgate’s chances of leading his side past the group stages will, one might imagine, be significantly higher.
Needing an injection of energy in the middle of the park, however, the former Middlesbrough boss may toy with the idea of introducing Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson into his midfield trio.