Kalvin Phillips has hailed Jude Bellingham as an “amazing talent”, and says England’s strength in depth can only help them across the rest of the World Cup.
The Manchester City man made his tournament debut off the bench in the Three Lions’ final Group B match, notching an assist as Gareth Southgate’s side ran out 3-0 winners over Wales.
For Phillips, an injury doubt ahead of Qatar 2022, his Euro 2020 starting berth has been filled by Borussia Dortmund teenager Bellingham, who is now the second-youngest England player to amass 20 caps after Wayne Rooney.
But the 26-year-old is more than happy to reap the success of his team-mate, suggesting the sky could well be the limit for his growth with the national side.
“I knew a few years ago that Jude would be a major part of this team, with the way he’s performed not just for England but for Dortmund,” Phillips said.
“He’s an amazing talent. He’s one of those kids that just goes out on the training pitch, and [he] is only going to become a better player.”
It’s been a dream of mine to play for England at a World Cup since as long as I can remember! Unreal night. Minutes in the tank and through to the knockouts
— Kalvin Phillips (@Kalvinphillips)
Bellingham is not the only talent impressing in Qatar, with Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden both seizing the chance to impress after starting against Wales.
With the addition of Jack Grealish and Callum Wilson offering threat off the bench, plus Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka, Phillips firmly believes England are stacked with game changers.
“We have got amazing strength in depth,” he added.
“I think with the players that we’ve got, there are times when you [will] miss out and not play as much.
“But when you’ve got people like [City team-mate] Jack [Grealish] coming off the bench, and Marcus, who can play anywhere across the front three, we’ve just got a lot of options.
“There are so many people to pick out who have talent. We see it as a positive for England.”
With more goals scored than any other nation at the World Cup so far, there is plenty of reason for optimism, as England look to make it three last-four finishes in major tournaments on the trot.
Phillips says it can be difficult to keep their feet on the ground, but paid credit to Southgate’s staff as crucial to ensuring they stay focused.
“It’s hard sometimes, but we have a good group, good coaching staff,” he added. “[We have] good managers who will always keep us grounded, especially Steve Holland.
“We won’t get too high about [beating Wales]. We’ll be happy about the result, but we’re just going to rest up and focus on the next one.”