Leeds must be careful with Kalvin Phillips following Saturday knock

Championship Picks

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

By April last season, Leeds had endured a term that was plagued by 31 separate injury issues.

Already this campaign we’ve seen Barry Douglas and Liam Cooper sit out various matches because of their own problems so fitness concerns may still lie within the squad.

It’s become rather synonymous with the club and the fact they have very limited options in some areas of the pitch isn’t ideal, especially for a club competing for promotion.

With that in mind, there was a key warning sign last Saturday that dictates the Whites must be careful with Kalvin Phillips.

On the chalkboard

The 23-year-old was the subject of a transfer saga during the summer, being linked with a host of Premier League clubs.

He attracted the interest of Wolves, Bournemouth and also Aston Villa but he ultimately stayed in Yorkshire.

Contract talks have been re-opened so his presence at Elland Road could now last even longer.

But they must be cautious with him and his fitness.

Against Swansea, the midfielder limped through large periods of the game, although his performance level didn’t seem to drop too highly.

Versus Steve Cooper’s side, he attempted ten tackles, six of which came in the second half. That’s one of the best aspects of his game, winning more per game than anyone in the division.

That shows just how crucial he is to Marcelo Bielsa’s side but the fact he had to play on through a niggle should be concerning.

In truth, it should have a few alarm bells ringing in the ears of the Argentine.

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Realistically, Leeds have very few players that can replace him. In the first-team squad only Alfie McCalmont looks like someone who can play in defensive midfield but he’s vastly inexperienced.

They lack real depth in Phillips’ position on the pitch and consequently his workload is expected to be quite high. Last term he appeared 44 times in the Championship, a number he may end up replicating in 2019/20.

But that won’t happen if they fail to nurse him sufficiently. In theory, it may appear foolish that he started outings against Salford and Stoke in the League Cup.

They were ideal opportunities to rest him but that now doesn’t seem possible considering they’re out of the competition.

A solution is needed and that may come in bringing him off when games are already wrapped up. Phillips is yet to be substituted this season which both underlines his importance and why they have to be more careful.

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