Gary Lineker slams Gareth Southgate’s ‘insulting’ comments about Kalvin Phillips and explains why they are just ‘wrong’

GARY LINEKER has slammed Gareth Southgate’s comments about Kalvin Phillips as “insulting”.

Southgate has come under fire for his side’s lacklustre performance during Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Denmark.

“If we’ve been relying on Kalvin Phillips over the years, that’s very worrying to me” @GaryLineker and @AlanShearer reflect on Southgate’s confusing comments after England’s fixture

— The Rest Is Football (@RestIsFootball) June 22, 2024

BBCGary Lineker has slammed Gareth Southgate’s comments after the Denmark game as ‘insulting’[/caption]

GettySouthgate suggested nobody in his current England squad can replace Kalvin Phillips[/caption]

England failed to impress against the Danes with more question marks being raised about Southgate’s choice to play right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield for both Euro 2024 games so far.

And when quizzed on the tactical decision, Southgate told the media that it’s down to failing to replace Kalvin Phillips in the squad.

He said: “We know it is an experiment – we don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips – but we are trying some different things.

“At the moment, we are not flowing as we would like, that’s for sure.”

Phillips was a mainstay in Southgate’s side during Euro 2020 and a large part of England reaching the final.

However he has since lost his place in the 26 after struggling for game time and from at Manchester City and West Ham.

And as such, Gary Lineker has clapped back at Southate’s comments around a replacement as “insulting” – suggesting that there are players who can fill Phillips’ gap with ease.

Speaking on The Rest is Football podcast, he said: “It’s insulting to some of the players that are there, and also it’s wrong.

GettySouthgate has started, and hooked, Trent Alexander-Arnold in every match at Euro 2024 so far[/caption]


“There are players in that squad that could do it [Phillips’ role].

“Even the young players he’s brought in, Adam Wharton could do it.

Kobbie Mainoo could probably do it. Bellingham could play.

“The players just need instructions, players need to understand what their jobs are.”

Alan Shearer, who was co-hosting the podcast with Lineker, also agreed with the sentiment that Southgate’s comments were wrong.

The Newcastle and England legend weighed in on the debate, adding: “If we’ve been relying on Kalvin Phillips for the last however many years, then that is very worrying to me.”

While another England hero has also claimed that there are a number of players who can play alongside Declan Rice in midfield for the Three Lions.

Speaking on ITV after the game, he said: “Listening to Gareth, he mentioned about Kalvin Phillips and he’s the only one in the country who can play that role, I don’t believe that.

“I believe Adam Wharton can play it. I think Kobbie Mainoo can play it as well. You’ve picked them.

“Now we’re in a situation where it’s not desperation because we’ve got four points, but we’re in a place where we need something different, we need to change something.”

Pundits and legends lay into England

ENGLAND’s lifeless display in the 1-1 draw with Denmark left pundits and legends queuing up to take a dig at Gareth Southgate’s team.

Here’s the best of what was said…


“Awful performance, particularly after going up in the game.

“I don’t think one England player can look at themselves and say, ‘I’ve done my job tonight’.

“England were all over the place, far too sloppy in possession, gave the ball away too much and got caught too many times.

“There was no energy, no pace, no guile — Southgate is simply not getting the best out of England’s best players.

“It’s concerning and Gareth will get some serious questions.

“You saw England players lying on their backs — they look absolutely shattered but there’s no excuse for that.”


The BBC host called the performance “lifeless and tepid”.

On Harry Kane he said: “He needs his manager to ask more of him. I would have expected that if I’d put in that kind of performance.”


“The players don’t look the same as they do for their clubs. It is a big concern.”


“Courage and bravery, we’re not really seeing it.

“There’s something amiss with the balance. Bellingham is waving his arms.

“This is a big test for Gareth. It looks like he’s overthinking things.”


“My big worry watching this and for the rest of the tournament?

“England look absolutely knackered. They can’t get close to the ball.

“The surest sign of fatigue is dropping deep.

“Declan Rice is having to cover so much ground. No-one can convince me this is a strategy.”


“It’s strange that we have taken the lead in both games so far, yet instead of it settling us down and giving us the confidence to play, we have failed to take control.

“But what was most worrying was that Denmark had a clear way of playing — while we didn’t.”

Southgate’s comments have confused a lot of people given that Phillips himself has only played a bit part for England in the last two years.

The Man City outcast played just 40 minutes of football at the 2022 World Cup and hasn’t been called up to the squad since the end of 2023.

Gareth Southgate now has a decision to make ahead of England’s final group clash against Slovenia on Tuesday.

He has hooked Alexander-Arnold from midfield in both games so far, replacing the Liverpool star with Conor Gallagher instead.

A start for Gallagher would suggest Southgate is waving the white flag on his experiment in the middle of the park.

While giving one of Wharton or Mainoo a chance alongside Rice would be a gamble given their lack of international experience, however both have shown their ability at club level.

England don’t need to panic just yet with Southgate’s side sitting top of Group C and looking likely to advance to the next round regardless of the result against Slovenia.

GettyPundits have suggested one of Adam Wharton or Kobbie Mainoo could play the Kalvin Phillips role[/caption]


ENGLAND stumbled to a drab 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Here’s how SunSport’s Tom Barclay rated the Three Lions team.

Jordan Pickford: 6

Looked a little jittery early doors, though there was nothing he could do about Morten Hjulmand’s corker and he made a decent parry after the break.

Kyle Walker: 7 

Made England’s opener by racing round a sleeping Victor Kristiansen – he’ll be having nightmares of that forevermore – and teeing up Kane via a deflected cross.

John Stones: 6

OK but you have got to wonder how fit he feels having barely played for Man City in the second half of the season, plus his injury and illness issues over the last month.

Marc Guehi: 8 and my star man

Really encouraging again from the Crystal Palace centre-back, looking sharp with his interceptions and assured in distribution.

Kieran Trippier: 6

Like Stones, he was fine, but England really need Luke Shaw back ASAP because having no natural left-footer at left-back is a problem.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5

This experiment of playing Trent in midfield is far from convincing, especially when his passing was off it like it was here, barring one good ball to Saka. Subbed on 54 minutes.

Declan Rice: 5

Had to cover so much ground as England dropped worryingly deep in the first half and also lost it a few times in front of his back four.

Bukayo Saka: 7

Not quite as electric as his first half against Serbia, but another solid showing from our right winger who has been our most consistent attacker across the two games.

Jude Bellingham: 6

Nowhere near the majestic display he put in against Serbia and one of many who looked tired.

Phil Foden: 7

Was far more involved than against Serbia – although that was not hard – and had a few dangerous efforts from range, including one that smacked the post after the break.

Harry Kane: 6

Netted his 64th goal for his country with an opener he could not really miss, but then gave the ball away from Denmark’s leveller. Surprisingly subbed.


Conor Gallagher (on for Trent, 54): 7

Vital clearance on the stretch when Christian Eriksen was lurking and was not afraid to put his foot in.

Ollie Watkins (on for Kane, 70): 6

Played in by Bellingham’s lovely ball after coming on but could not finish from an acute angle.

Jarrod Bowen (on for Foden, 69): 6

Copped a nasty tackle which saw Joakim Maehle booked.

Eberechi Eze (on for Saka, 69): 6

On for his tournament bow though he was rarely involved.

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