Gary Lineker: Gareth Southgate is ‘insulting’ England players with Kalvin Phillips comments

Gary Lineker: Gareth Southgate is 'insulting' England players with Kalvin Phillips comments
Gary Lineker has been scathing in his reaction to England's performances - The Rest Is Football Podcast

Gary Lineker has added to his criticism of Gareth Southgate by branding his comments about struggling to replace Kalvin Phillips as “insulting” to the current players in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

Lineker, who played in three major tournaments for England, had called the 1-1 draw against Denmark “s---” and suggested Southgate was tactically inept after the poor display in Frankfurt.

After the match, in which he experimented with pushing Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield, Southgate stated England still “don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips”.

Phillips was a starter at the last European Championship and won England’s player-of-the-year award in 2020-21. Even with Alexander-Arnold, Southgate also has Adam Wharton and Kobbie Mainoo in his squad as central midfielders, which is why Lineker called the manager’s assessment “wrong”.

“It’s insulting to some of the players that are there, and also it’s wrong,” Lineker said on his The Rest Is Football podcast.

“There are players in that squad that could do it. Even the young players he’s brought, in, Adam Wharton could do it. Kobbie Mainoo could probably do it. [Jude] Bellingham could play – you just have to tell him. The players just need instructions, players need to understand what their jobs are.”

Lineker’s co-host Alan Shearer was also alarmed by the comments and defended the fierce criticism of the England team from ex-internationals who have been broadcasting this week.

“If we’ve been relying on Kalvin Phillips for the last however many years, then that is very worrying to me,” Shearer said. “I didn’t understand his comment at all.”

He added: “If we, or whoever it was on the panel, didn’t say it as it was, we get criticised for not telling it how it is. We did a good job in doing that.”

Lineker also defended the coverage of England, insisting the analysis was not personal.

“All you can do is call it how you see it and tell the truth. It doesn’t have to be personal. There are no personal attacks on anyone’s character, nobody has accused anyone of not trying because we know the players will be devastated by it,” he said.