Manchester City are yet to get the best of Kalvin Phillips since the England international moved to the Etihad Stadium last summer. He has played little football for the club since making his competitive debut in the 2-0 opening day league win away at West Ham.
First, he was kept out by in-form Rodri, who is currently in the form of his life. Then he had to undergo surgery on his shoulder that kept him sidelined for two months. He was close to losing out on a trip to Qatar. Fortunately, he recovered on time to feature in City’s Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea.
The World Cup list was announced shortly after. For a player that won the 2020-21 BT England men’s player of the year, it was not surprising that manager Gareth Southgate included him to the World Cup contingent.
Having played a key role in helping England reach the final of the European Championships last summer, he could be expected to contribute significantly again once fit. He has been working on gaining full fitness as the tournament progresses and waiting for his opportunity to shine.
So far, he has only featured in the game against Wales. Although in as a second half substitute, he was able to make his presence felt. An assist for the third goal of the game shows just how important he can be to the team.
Having the necessary time to regain his sharpness with the national team can only work in City’s favour. It will mean that whatever England achieve in Qatar, he will return to the Etihad Stadium raring to go.
City and Pep Guardiola will have a big job on their hands once the season resumes. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are sitting comfortably at the top of the league table. That is a position City hope to be in at the end of the season. To achieve that Guardiola will need the full complement of his players.
Rodri has been in top form since the season began. But at some point the Spaniard will need some help. Having a fit and ready to go Phillips waiting in the wings can make all the difference. It ensures the solidity of the midfield to galvanize the team to victory at crucial times.