John Barnes picks out England’s two ‘most important’ players at Euro 2020 after Denmark victory

The midfield pairing have impressed for the Three Lions (Picture: Getty Images)

John Barnes says Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice have been England’s two ‘most important’ players in their run to the Euro 2020 final.

Gareth Southgate’s choice to field two defensive-minded midfielders in the middle of the park for this summer’s tournament initially raised eyebrows, but they have been nothing short of outstanding.

They have starred in all of England’s six games so far, including Wednesday evening’s crunch 2-1 victory over Denmark, which saw the Three Lions through to a final of a major international tournament for the first time in 55 years.

Southgate has led his side to the Euro 2020 final (Picture: Getty Images)

A fine free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard and an own goal from Simon Kjaer saw the match finish 1-1 in normal time, before Harry Kane netted a dramatic winner in extra time.

The captain saw his penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel but he quickly pounced on the rebound to send Wembley into delirium.

Although Kane and Sterling, who are on four and three goals respectively this summer, will take the headlines, Barnes thinks Phillips and Rice have been crucial for Southgate.

‘Sterling for me has been the star of England from when the tournament started,’ ex-Three Lions winger Barnes told Sky Sports.

Harry Kane has now come and scored the goals, in terms of getting us where we are, he carried that biggest threat.

‘But I’ve said all along, the two most important players for England in this tournament have been Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.

‘You talk about those two, and people talking about not playing two holding midfielders, ‘do we need that?’.

‘But they’ve protected the back four, we’ve only conceded one goal, and as much as you look at the defence, the work they have done in protecting them and giving England the balance of having four attacking players; Mason Mount, Harry Kane, Sterling and [Phil] Foden, [Jack] Grealish or [Bukayo] Saka.

‘Those two give them that base and that balance that I don’t think we’ve ever had.’

MORE : Ashley Cole apologises to Kalvin Phillips after England’s win vs Denmark at Euro 2020

MORE : Alan Shearer singles out ‘absolutely magnificent’ Raheem Sterling and rates England’s chances in Euro 2020 final against Italy

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