Speaking exclusively to FootballFanCast, Steve Howey has delivered his verdict on Kalvin Phillips’ injury blow for Leeds United.
The England international was forced off in Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace last time out in the Premier League, with the midfielder initially seeming to go down with a calf problem.
And, ahead of the Whites’ clash against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon, Bielsa confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Phillips is a doubt for the game, but that no decision has been made just yet.
When asked about how big of a blow Phillips’ absence would be for Bielsa, former Newcastle defender Howey admitted: “Huge. Again, this is probably the third time we’ve said that it’s another opportunity for someone else to come in and grab their chance.
“With him, I’ve seen him make his debut and thought ‘decent, but what’s all the fuss about?’. But I hadn’t really watched him so my mind wasn’t made up. I’m hearing people say how good he is, and I had the opportunity to see him at Everton against Leeds.
“He was absolutely superb. Gareth Southgate was there and I spoke to him before the game, and I’ve seen him at another game and said to him afterwards ‘Wow, he was good. I can totally understand where you’re coming from getting him in the England squad’. And he said ‘He was good wasn’t he? He ran the show.’ He was absolutely brilliant and he’s a very, very impressive young man.”
Phillips has been an ever-present for Bielsa in Leeds’ return to the Premier League, missing just four games in the top-flight, and even that was down to injury.
He makes the Whites tick in the engine room, and his ability to be an anchor on defence, and still have the quality to move things forward with his range of passing means he’s the kind of player that Leeds will always struggle to replace.
He features highly when it comes to his influence on this Leeds side, ranking first for tackles made (2.7 per game), fourth for interceptions (1.6), fourth for key passes (1.3), and top for crosses (1.2) – a player who’s involved as much as Phillips is, makes it that much more difficult for his manager to try and replace.
The £18m-rated star would no doubt be a major miss for Bielsa if he were to be ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Gunners.