Former Sunderland player Kevin Phillips conceded today that his hopes for a recall to the England squad have all but vanished.
Phillips, Sunderland’s record post-war goalscorer, was capped for England eight times – his first coming in April 1999 when he played 83 minutes in a friendly against Hungary, and the most recent when he replaced Michael Ricketts to play the second half in a friendly against Holland in February 2002. But during those eight matches he failed to score.
Phillips moved to Southampton in August after just over six years’ service at Sunderland and scored on his debut for the south-coast club – but has scored only twice since, and was sent off during the Saints’ home defeat to Middlesbrough.
He said “If I’m totally honest, I feel my England time has passed me by.
“When you look at the squad, there’s not many players over 30. The manager’s going for a young squad and I haven’t played for England for almost two years.
“I’m concentrating on Southampton now. And if I do start scoring regularly, people wouldn’t be able to ignore the pressure that would cause. And if I start performing well in European competition with Southampton, people will get to know who I am.”
“I’m not going to lose any sleep if the call doesn’t come – although it would be great if it did.
And Superkev’s new manager, Gordon Strachan, praised the Hitchin-born player’s abilities.
“He scored goals more regularly in the past but his football at this club has been absolutely fantastic.
“I knew he was a very good player but not a great player. You admire people from afar but I’ve learnt more about him now and he has no technical, mental or lifestyle flaw.
“It’s about his bravery, link-up play and intelligence. He gets kicked and shoved but he hangs onto the ball.”
Phillips will be in UEFA cup action for Southampton on Wednesday night when the Saints play the second leg of their first round tie against Steaua Bucharest.