Gary Lineker says Gareth Southgate ‘insulted’ England players with Kalvin Phillips comments

Gary Lineker found Gareth Southgate’s comments ‘very strange’ and ‘insulting’ (Photo: Getty)

Gareth Southgate’s comments regarding Kalvin Phillips would have been ‘insulting’ to his England squad, Gary Lineker believes.

The Three Lions are still reeling from their woeful 1-1 draw with Denmark in their second match of Euro 2024.

Though England’s place in the knockouts is all but confirmed, their performances against Denmark and Serbia are extremely concerning.

Midfield has been a problem area, with the pairing of Declan Rice and Trent Alexander-Arnold not working, the former looking a shadow of himself, while latter, a natural right-back, has failed to adapt to his new position.

In his post-Denmark press conference Southgate suggested that his team were struggling due to the absence of Phillips, once a mainstay for England who lost his place in the squad after an awful season.

‘We know it’s an experiment and we know that we don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips,’ the manager said.

‘We’re trying some different things and at the moment we’re not flowing as we’d like, that’s for sure.’

Kalvin Phillips didn’t make England’s Euro 2024 squad (Photo: Getty)

The comments have been widely panned and refuted, with Ian Wright among those to point out that young stars Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton could easily play in defensive midfield instead.

England legend and Match of the Day host Lineker has now gone further, discussing Southgate’s ‘insulting’ words on The Rest is Football podcast.

‘I didn’t like Gareth’s comments after the game in terms of Kalvin Phillips,’ co-pundit and fellow former England striker Alan Shearer began.

Southgate’s comments did not go down well (Photo: Getty)

‘If we’ve been relying on Kalvin Phillips for the last few years, then that is very worrying for me. I don’t think we have but I didn’t understand this comment at all.’

‘Well it was insulting to some of the players already there and also it’s wrong because there are players in that squad who can do it,’ Lineker replied.

‘Even the young players who he’s brought in can do it. Adam Wharton can do it. Kobbie Mainoo could probably do it.

Is it time for Southgate to call on Adam Wharton (Photo: Getty)

‘[Jude] Bellingham can play there if you tell him to. But the players need instructions, they need to understand what their job is.

‘It’s not like him to make a comment [like that]. He normally protects his players and rightly so. What they say within the walls we don’t know.

‘Even with Phil Foden after the first game he said he was exceptional and said all the right things but that was very strange.’

Phillips was exceptional for England at the last Euros but while he had maintained a presence in the Three Lions squad ever since, his club form has fallen apart.

Injuries have played a huge part in that, as did an ill-fated move to Manchester City where he has barely played even when fit, and his Euro 2024 hopes were ended for good after a string of terrible performances while on loan to West Ham last season.

Southgate is expected to make several changes for England’s final Group C game against Slovenia on Tuesday, with Alexander-Arnold likely to be dropped for one of Conor Gallagher, Mainoo or Wharton.

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