Chances are slim but Phillips deserves his England chance

Leeds United

Leeds United fans are currently nervously preparing for Wednesday's Championship encounter with Middlesbrough in the battle for promotion.

Before Christmas, Leeds’ place in the top flight looked to be nailed on after they and West Bromwich Albion moved a long way clear of the chasing pack.

One win in eight matches put Leeds in serious trouble, with Fulham and Brentford closing the gap in recent weeks.

With the Championship incredibly hard to predict, Leeds have now managed to kick on in recent weeks and they are unbeaten in three matches.

Back-to-back wins over Bristol City and Reading have moved them five points clear of third-placed Fulham, and they now have 12 games to go.

Leeds have been out of the top flight for 16 years, but the form of Kalvin Phillips will be crucial to their chances of reclaiming their spot amongst England’s elite.

The local lad has become an integral part of Leeds’ squad under Marcelo Bielsa, so much so that Aston Villa had bids of around £20million rejected last summer.

Leeds handed Phillips a new contract earlier this season, but the chances of him staying without promotion are incredibly slim.

Leeds lost their structure during his three-match suspension last month, but his return has been timely and demonstrated his importance to the team.

At 24, he is yet to hit his peak, but his performances have reportedly done enough to impress England manager Gareth Southgate.

Phillips is on his radar ahead of the European Championships this summer and Southgate has been spotted at Elland Road on several occasions.

Declan Rice is his main rival for the holding midfielder role, but England are very light in that department, with Jordan Henderson, more of a box-to-box man.

Tottenham’s Harry Winks is confident in possession but lacks a physical presence in the middle of the park.

Only four players outside of the Premier League have been selected for England in the 21st century, with David Nugent, Jay Bothroyd, Wilfried Zaha and Mason Mount given their chances.

Mount’s inclusion will give Phillips hope, and he may yet make his debut in the upcoming friendlies against Italy and Denmark in March.

His spell in the Championship with Derby County gave him a platform to showcase his talents and he has now taken that to the next level with Chelsea.

Phillips has learned his craft from one of the world’s best coaches, and there is no reason why he should not be given his chance, especially considering England’s lack of bruisers in the middle of midfield.