Reggae Boyz targets called up by England

The international football futures of Kalvin Phillips and Mason Greenwood appear set to be decided as the pair were selected into England’s 24-man squad for their upcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark, respectively, next month.

Both players who were born to Jamaican parents would have been eligible to play for the country and interest was previously expressed by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in bringing Phillips and Greenwood into the national senior team. In an August 4 interview with The Gleaner, Reggae Boyz manager Roy Simpson had confirmed that an invitation had been extended to Phillips to join the team as part of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“The fact that the possibility of playing for England has arose, we have to press on. We can only offer what we can offer but at the end of the day, the decision will be his,” he said. Simpson declined to comment yesterday when contacted and calls to JFF general secretary Dalton Wint and president Michael Ricketts went unanswered.

Phillips is coming off a season in which he helped his club Leeds United make their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

England head coach Gareth Southgate praised Phillips’ development in his defensive midfield role under Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa and believes that his inclusion fills a need for competition for spots at his position.

“He is a player that we have watched a lot over the last 12 months in particular with Leeds. I think they have an outstanding way of playing. The position he plays is a position where we need competition for places. And the way that he plays the role and the way that he has been coached in the role is clear to see,” he said at the announcement. “I spoke to him this morning [yesterday] which was a nice reminder for what it means for someone to be in their first England squad. It’s a proud moment for him, his family and his club.”

Phillips in an interview with Sky Sports yesterday said that the call-up was unexpected as he had believed he would have had to wait a little longer.

“I didn’t expect to get into the England squad this early into the season, even before the season started,” he said “I thought it would take quite a while to be honest but maybe I got lucky.”

Meanwhile, Greenwood, who represented England at the junior level, scored 10 Premier League goals in 31 appearances last season for Manchester United. Additionally, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has also been selected. Sterling was in Jamaica recently and attended sprinting legend Usain Bolt’s surprise party where the multiple Olympic champion contracted COVID-19. According to reports, Sterling has tested negative for the virus.

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