England's national football team is finding it tough to perform without their key midfielder, Kalvin Phillips. Gareth Southgate, the team's manager, has acknowledged this challenge as he experiments with new player positions to compensate for Phillips' absence.

In recent matches, Southgate has tried using right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold in the midfield. During England's 1-0 win over Serbia and their 1-1 draw with Denmark, Alexander-Arnold took on this new role. However, this decision has sparked questions and criticism, especially after the lackluster performance against Denmark. Alexander-Arnold was substituted just 54 minutes into the game, with Conor Gallagher, a more traditional midfielder, taking his place.

After the Denmark match, Southgate explained that the team's struggles with pressing and ball retention were partly to blame for their poor displays. Speaking about Alexander-Arnold's new role, Southgate said, “He's had some moments where he has delivered what we thought he would. 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.”

England's importance of midfield balance

Southgate's decision to bring on Conor Gallagher highlights the need for energy and pressing ability in the midfield. Gallagher's introduction was meant to boost the team's performance in these areas. “I wanted to get Conor on, we needed some energy to press better and Conor does that very well,” Southgate explained.

Kalvin Phillips, who has been a vital player for England in the past, is currently absent from the squad. Phillips has struggled for playing time at Manchester City and had an unimpressive loan spell at West Ham. Despite his recent difficulties, Phillips was a standout player for England during Euro 2020, helping the team reach the final. With 31 caps to his name, Phillips has not played for England since November 2023.

In addition to Phillips' absence, Southgate also decided against selecting experienced midfielder Jordan Henderson for the Euros. Instead, he chose to give younger players like Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton a chance. Mainoo, a promising talent from Manchester United, played briefly against Serbia, while Wharton, from Crystal Palace, is yet to make an appearance.

Southgate's current challenge is to find the right balance in the midfield without Phillips. The experiment with Alexander-Arnold has had mixed results, and the team is still searching for the fluidity and control that Phillips once provided. As England continues its journey in international football, finding a reliable solution in the midfield remains a top priority for Southgate and his coaching staff.

England's recent performances have highlighted the significant impact of Kalvin Phillips' absence. Gareth Southgate's attempts to fill the gap with unconventional choices like Trent Alexander-Arnold have yet to yield the desired results. The search for a balanced and effective midfield continues, as England strives to regain its form and achieve success on the international stage.