By Noel Whelan

29th Mar, 2021 | 1:39pm

Noel Whelan: This is real reason Kalvin Phillips is getting criticised by England fans

Leeds United are an unpopular club and that is the reason why Kalvin Phillips attracts such unfair criticism. 

That is according to ex-Leeds striker and lifelong fan Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the 25-year-old who won his fifth and sixth international caps in England’s recent World Cup qualifiers.

Phillips started at the base of midfield for Gareth Southgate’s side as they beat minnows San Marino 5-0 at Wembley last Thursday.

Three days later, he featured once again as England overcame Albania 2-0 to make it two wins out of two in the qualifying campaign.

Some fans, however, were dissatisfied with what they perceived to be a lack of attacking intent from the Leeds academy graduate.

According to one England fan, Phillips was “a mile off” against San Marino and was the “worse player out there” in a tweet that received 120 likes.

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Another fan said he was “shocking“, which collected a further 139 likes.

Whelan gave a glowing assessment of Phillips and dismissed his detractors for their anti-Leeds bias.

He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “I think it’s a case of everybody hates Leeds. When I watched him against San Marino, he was solid. I think there are a few unfair critics out there. 

“He’s not going to be the player who dribbles past 20 players and scores a worldie. That is not his job, he’s not that kind of player.

“He’s doing a different job to your Lingards and Sterlings. He’s there to keep the momentum going and be that defensive midfield player and link-up play with those attacking players to let them go and do their business.

“Gareth Southgate needs him in the side and appreciates him. He very rarely gave the ball away and was always available and looking to get into possession. He made the tackles, he kept things moving.”

The Three Lions face Poland in their final match of the March international break on Wednesday.

Phillips has featured 23 times for an impressive Leeds side this season who are vying for a place in the top half with the Premier League finish line in sight.

In other news, Gelhardt “could quit Leeds United if Bielsa doesn’t promote him to first team”.