Ward-Prowse replaces Phillips in England squad after Leeds midfielder pulls out with injury

Ward-Prowse replaces Phillips in England squad after Leeds midfielder pulls out with injury

Ward-Prowse brought into England camp

Key Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse is once again brought into the England fold today after Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips pulled out of Gareth Southgate’s squad with an injury.

The change was confirmed directly from Englandfootball.com, and states that “Phillips was assessed following Leeds United’s victory over Watford on Saturday and has been ruled out of the forthcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.”

For Ward-Prowse, it is a chance to add to the eight caps he has received since his England debut back in March of 2017 in the Three Lions’ 1-0 loss to Germany at Signal Iduna Park.

It took another 27-opportunities for the Portsmouth-native to earn his second cap when he received 9-minutes off the bench in a 5-1 win against Montenegro, but has been called upon by Southgate as recently as June in a pair of international friendlies against Austria & Romania while being included in the XI against Tricolorii. 

James Ward-Prowse

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 30: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton scores his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Crystal Palace at St Mary’s Stadium on January 30, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Despite his massive influence at St. Mary’s under Ralph Hasenhüttl to the tune of 23-goals and 15-assists under the Austrian, including last season that saw JWP hit 8-goals and 8-assists in the league, he has yet to earn a valuable – and regular – place amongst Southgate’s preferred England squads.

Phillips absence signals a big conundrum for Southgate

There are few players more key to how England operate of late than Kalvin Phillips.

The Leeds-native and midfield stalwart at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa has earned parity for England as his importance to Gareth Southgate has become clear.

James Ward-Prowse replaces Kalvin Phillips in England squad after Leeds United midfielder withdraws through injury

England’s Kalvin Phillips in action during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday June 13, 2021. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

As the chief partner of Declan Rice, the central duopoly were at the heart of an impressive England side that reached the final of Euro2020 last summer, only to fall to Italy in a penalty shootout.

With Phillips set to miss both clashes against Andorra & Hungary, true central midfield options rest on the aforementioned Rice & Ward-Prowse as well as Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, with Chelsea’s Mason Mount capable of deputizing in the role.

How Southgate intends to address the whole Phillips’ absence will leave remains to be seen, but thankfully, the match against Andorra in Andorra la Vella can provide a valuable proving ground.