Kalvin Phillips admits he is exceeding even his own expectations on how his England career would pan out.
The Leeds midfielder was the only outfield member of Gareth Southgate’s squad to play every minute of the Euro 2020 group stage – with the Three Lions progressing into a last-16 clash with Germany.
Phillips, 25, only made his England debut last September but has been an integral part of Southgate’s plans, even winning the FA’s man of the match award in the opening win over Croatia.
He is likely to retain his place in the England side for Tuesday’s meeting with Germany and conceded he was not expecting to have had such a fine start to life as an international footballer.
“You could say that,” he replied when asked if he had exceeded expectations since making his England bow.
“If I thought about it nine months ago or even before that, that I was going to play as much as I have for England, especially in a tournament, I wouldn’t have believed it off anybody.
But the fact that I’m here now and I actually am doing it, is testament to myself and the manager and coaching staff as well.
“I know that he trusts me a lot, to play in games likes this and to play every minute is an honour for me.
“The only thing I can keep doing is working hard on the training pitch and try to play as much as possible.”
England may have progressed as winners of Group D but their play has been widely criticised as they managed just two goals in their three games.
Phillips, however, insists Southgate does not set up defensively, adding: “He’s very easy going. He wants us to attack.
“He wants us to get goals and express ourselves when we’ve got the ball and when we haven’t got it, so I feel everyone says Gareth was a defender so his teams are very defensive.
“My club team can score five goals and concede four which is maybe not as good. The fact that we’re keeping clean sheets is a major positive as well.
“I feel like when I’m in a position to turn and go forward there’s loads of options. I feel like sometimes I am new to the team and I don’t really want to risk the ball too much.
“It’s about being courageous and it’s about being positive when you get the ball. I’ve been trying to do that since I’ve been with England and hopefully in the next few games, I’ll keep doing that.”