Kalvin Phillips on his Leeds United return after tough time, West Ham, set-pieces and hopes of surprising Chelsea
Monday night's defeat to West Ham was not the ideal comeback for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips but it was an important one.
A calf injury had kept Phillips out for the Whites' previous four Premier League games, three of which ended in defeat. But the injury, sustained late on in his 200th appearance for Leeds against Crystal Palace, also kept him from doing what he loves during a time of person turmoil.
His grandmother, affectionately known as 'Granny Val' passed away in mid-February. One of the central figures in Phillips' close-knit family throughout his life, she became popular with the club's fanbase thanks to her down-to-earth appearances in the Amazon documentary on Leeds United
Phillips valued the chance to get back to work last night, even if the result did not go his and Leeds' way.
"The first 15 minutes we started very well but after that we conceded two sloppy goals," he said.
"It's just one of them, on another day we could have scored two or three. Personally I'm just happy to be out on the pitch, I've been injured for quite a while, had a bad couple of weeks for personal reasons. I'm just glad to be back out there doing what I love.
"The first 25 minutes I was blowing to be honest but it's the way we play, we're a very dynamic team, we run a lot. Obviously I'm disappointed with the result but I'm glad to be back."
A 2-0 scoreline failed to reflect Leeds' bright start and second half dominance, or the number of good chances they created. But Phillips admitted there is more work to be done to eradicate the defensive set-piece issue that has proven costly in numerous games.
"West Ham are a very good team, they've been playing very well this season," said Phillips.
"We've had certain training sessions on how they would come out and play and they did exactly that. We got surprised by a set-piece, which is never good and something we're going to have to improve on. We've conceded a lot of goals from set-pieces, whether just a lack of concentration. I couldn't put a name on it but it's one of them things we have to improve on if we want to keep doing well in this league.
"If we're going to lose a game it's going to have to be the way we played in the second half, we had all the ball, created a lot of chances and on another day we score two or three."
The next challenge for the midfielder and his team-mates is arguably an even tougher one than the game they lost on Monday night. Chelsea, unbeaten in 12, visit Elland Road on Saturday.
"Who knows?" said Phillips when asked if Leeds could get back to winning ways.
"We've surprised a lot of teams and a lot of teams have surprised us. It's one of those seasons where a lot of teams can beat anybody. We'll dust down and get ready for a big game."