With the Premier League season set to get underway for Leeds United today, Marcelo Bielsa must unleash Kalvin Phillips against Manchester United.
The England international had a busy summer on the pitch, being a key part of Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up as the Three Lions made it all the way to the final of Euro 2020.
That saw Phillips miss a significant chunk of pre-season, and he only just returned to first-team action for the Whites last weekend when he played 45 minutes against Europa League winners Villareal.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford this afternoon, Bielsa said: “He’s done a different type of work, a briefer one. The preparation time he had was half that of his teammates, but he’s done this in a very serious manner. It’s natural that the time he needed to prepare has not been completed yet.”
While the Leeds manager may be reluctant to throw the midfielder straight into the deep end, the level of influence Phillips has on this team is unquestionable.
Last season saw the Whites struggle without their midfield lynchpin, winning just two out of nine Premier League games that he missed, and that saw Darren Bent speak about the kind of importance of the England international.
He said: “It is a unique role, and you think who else can they get in that position who can do the job effectively. The answer to that is no one. He’s that good of a player that it’s hard to replace him.”
As per WhoScored, Phillips ranked in the top three for both tackles and interceptions made per game in the top-flight last term for Leeds, while he also figured highly for key passes per match, sitting in fourth.
Hailed as “unbelievable” by Danny Murphy following his performances at Euro 2020 over the summer, the £36m-rated Phillips is the vital presence Leeds will need if they are to pick up a positive result at Old Trafford today.