Kalvin Phillips set to miss Leeds United’s final three games

14 Jul 2020 12:43 pm, by YorkshireSquare

There is no doubting that Kalvin Phillips is the conductor Marcelo Bielsa’s orchestra, our maestro in defensive midfield, setting the tempo of the game, ensuring all the performers follow the same metrical rhythm. Be it his short passing game or the long balls, Phillips has been a master at guiding the ensemble around the pitch. Winning the ball back, dictating play, directing the symphony to the joy of an admiring crowd. He is the representation of what Marcelo Bielsa has done to this squad, from an average academy graduate to one of the best defensive midfielders in the country, close to an England call up.

It's such a shame therefore that he looks likely to miss the last three games of the season. Phillips left knee had been heavily strapped for the second half against Swansea on Sunday and Marcelo Bielsa has now confirmed he is unlikely to shake off the injury in the next five weeks, missing out on the final few games of the season in the process. It’s a blow for Phillips, as a Leeds lad with the club at his heart he will want to have been involved in the most important three games the club has played in the last fifteen years. It’s a blow for Marcelo Bielsa too, one of his mort important players missing for the run in.

Phillips has already missed six games this season, four through suspension and two through injury with Leeds making it four wins and two defeats out of those games taking twelve points from a possible eighteen. Bielsa and his squad are well drilled at playing without Phillips in the team and it is most likely Ben White will step into defensive midfield, a role he has filled several times this season already. It was a position the young centre back seemed a little unsure of at first, but he has the skill and ability to play the role and grew into it during his most recent performances there.

That of course means there will be a vacancy at centre back which will no doubt be taken by Gaetano Berardi. The Swiss has a reputation for being hot headed, but his temperament has been much improved this season with only one yellow card to his name. He was shown a red card against Millwall but this was later overturned on appeal. Leeds have conceded just five goals in the twenty games Berardi has been involved in this season and out of the nine he has started they have won five and lost only one, and that was the Millwall game. Other options could include moving Luke Ayling to central defence with Stuart Dallas or Ezgjan Alioski covering at right back but this would dampen Aylings attacking runs which have created so much for Leeds in recent week.

With the experience of Kalvin Phillips missing from midfield it does raise the question of whether Pablo Hernandez may start ahead of Tyler Roberts or if Marcelo Bielsa will continue to protect him and only bring him on in the second half if required. The Spaniard’s second half performances since the restart have handed Leeds almost complete control of the midfield and his presence could be welcome with Phillips missing. The next three games could also be an opportunity to blood Alfie McCalmont, the promising young defensive midfielder who despite a couple of League Cup appearances has yet to make his league debut.

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