STEVE EVANS has reassured young midfielder Kalvin Phillips that he still has a big part to play at Leeds United – and says he won’t be allowed to leave on loan.
The Leeds lad, who turned 20 in December, has made just six substitute appearances since Evans took over at Elland Road in October – the majority of which have come towards the end of games. The chances of Phillips – who made three league starts under Uwe Rosler before the German’s dismissal after 11 matches of the Championship campaign – being afforded a quick pathway back into the first team now appear to have been further hit by the arrival of Toumani Diagouraga.
Phillips, who broke through at first-team level towards the end of last season under Neil Redfearn, was expected by many to be the next ‘cab off the rank’ in terms of homegrown academy talents establishing themselves in the United line-up following in the footsteps of Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor and Sam Byram.
But for Phillips, patience is currently the name of the game, but Evans is confident that his time will come into terms of regular first-team opportunities in the future, if not quite just yet.
On the situation regarding Phillips, yet to make a start under his watch, Evans said: “We are keeping Kalvin in the building. He’s got a big future at this football club.
“But he is learning the game and you can’t expect everyone in Leeds United, coming through in the academy, to learn as quickly as the Cooks, Mowatts and Taylors.
“They are quite special lads – and
maybe we can run away and forget that.
“It’s very unusual to see lads at the ages they are who are playing every week in the Championship.
“They are gifted and special players and Kalvin can join that group. But he needs a little bit more time.”
While Phillips’ future remains firmly at Leeds, one midfielder whose chances of a renaissance at Elland Road appear somewhat remote is Tommaso Bianchi, who has linked up with Serie B side Ascoli in his native Italy.
Bianchi, 27, who has not played for Leeds in almost 12 months having undergone surgery on two knee injuries last year, has joined Ascoli on loan until the summer – but it is likely to be the precursor to a full-time move if things go well with an permanent option in place in the deal.
Despite a largely tough time at Leeds, Bianchi – just 18 months into a four-year deal that he signed in the summer of 2014 after joining from Sassuolo – insists that his time at the club he been a ‘positive experience’ and one that he would recommend to his compatriots.
Bianchi said: “In England I lived a very positive experience. It was amazing to play in the Football League Championship and I recommend this to all the Italian players.
“Obviously we had some difficult (moments), with the changing of a lot of coaches and particularly me with the injuries. But my first season was good.
“I had the most part of the problems in the last months. Now I want to restart a new career here in Ascoli.”