Leeds United’s current conveyor belt of academy talent could well have unearthed yet another gem in the guise of Kalvin Phillips – described as a ‘typical Leeds midfielder’. Leon Wobschall reports.
LEEDS UNITED academy coach Jason Blunt is confident that rising star Kalvin Phillips will prove a Whites favourite with supporters in the years to come.
Phillips is widely tipped as being the next young player to emerge from the burgeoning Academy production line and become a firm part of Neil Redfearn’s first-team plans following the rise to prominence of the likes of Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor.
Blunt is mindful of the importance of patience to ensure that the development of a host of talented young academy products is sustained, but he firmly believes that in time, several more academy players can crack it at first-team level, including Phillips.
A number again impressed in the recent development squad win over Brentford, which kept United on course for the end-of-season play-offs, including midfielders Phillips and Chris Dawson. Both have been involved with the first team this season, with Dawson having made two brief substitute appearances and Phillips part of recent match-day squads and eyeing further involvement before the end of the season. And Blunt feels that Phillips’ footballing DNA will endear him to Whites fans in the years to come.
Blunt said: “You could see with Kalvin Phillips’ performance (against Brentford) that he has had a taste of it around the first team and although he has not got on for the first team yet, you can see he wants to stay in and around it.
“He stamps his mark on games. He’s athletic and a good footballer with a good range of passing and a typical Leeds midfielder who the fans tend to like.”
And on Dawson, he added: “Daws has been in and out and shown what he is capable of doing. He will be patient and I am sure he will get another opportunity. Although some lads haven’t got in yet, they haven’t got disheartened. Through constant praise and chats with staff, they have stuck with it.
“Maybe Daws has found it difficult not being in sometimes, but Redders (head coach Neil Redfearn) and the whole club know what he is capable of doing.
“He’s an exceptional talent, but we will be patient with him. It might not be this year, but it is important we are consistent with them. It is not just about one or two appearances, but making a good career in the game. It would be great if a few more had a sniff, but they have got to earn it and earn the right to get in there. But I think they are showing that they are more than capable.
“It’s a bonus if they are involved and sometimes the kids might lose, but it is important we are patient with them and the good thing with Redders involved in the philosophy is that we will be patient with them because we know what they are capable of doing.”
Redfearn may have stepped back from his academy supremo role upon taking the head coach position on a full-time basis in the autumn, but he has remained extremely well briefed on the development of all of the club’s young talents – at all levels.
Blunt believes that can only have a positive effect on United’s new generation of young players seeking a pathway to the first team – with all afforded clear hope by Redfearn, who has stressed about showing a duty of care to the overall well-being of Leeds United.
Blunt said: “He’s in and around everything and there’s nothing he doesn’t know and nothing we wouldn’t share with him.
“That is what makes it a good thing; he wants to know how the under-18s have got on, the under-21s and speaks about the younger kids throughout.
“I think it rubs off on the kids because they know he cares. It is not just Redders, but the whole staff. This is a great club and the fact that we have stabilised our league position helps.
“It’s a great tradition of producing good kids.”