By Gabriel Agbonlahor

17th Mar, 2023 | 3:10pm

Man City news: Agbonlahor can't believe Kalvin Phillips controversy - 'he's bent the rules'

Gabby Agbonlahor has insisted Gareth Southgate was right to “bend the rules” and select Man City outcast Kalvin Phillips as part of his latest England squad.

The former Aston Villa striker was speaking exclusively to Football Insider as fans and pundits alike accuse the Three Lions boss of having a big club bias after the 27-year-old’s controversial selection.

Southgate announced his England squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine this month – with Phillips a part of the 25-man list.

The former Leeds star was included despite making just three substitute appearances in the Premier League since the mid-season World Cup break.

Speaking on talkSPORT (16 March), former Three Lions striker Darren Bent claimed Southgate was showing a big club bias by selecting Phillips over the likes of James Ward-Prowse.

Phillips has made just two starts since his reported £42million move to Man City last summer (2022).

Get Exclusive transfers news at Football Insider's YouTube TV channel

He played just 40 minutes for England at last year’s World Cup after he was selected despite not being 100% fit.

Agbonlahor told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “If you look at that defensive midfield position, then it’s clear why Phillips has been picked.

“It’s only him and Declan Rice who are naturals in that role.

“You’ve got to look at it like that. If there were four or five players in that role who are playing regularly in the Premier League, then Phillips wouldn’t be in the squad.

“I do understand it. He’s out of favour at Man City but he’s been there and done it for England before.

“If he stays at City, then he won’t play much football. Does that mean he’s never going to play for England again – even if he plays well internationally? “I think Southgate’s bent the rules and he’s got it right.”

In other news, Football Insider updates on Man City signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as release clause details revealed.