Leeds United: Phillips is in contention to make his home debut

Kalvin Phillips
Kalvin Phillips
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Kalvin Phillips is in contention for a home debut against Cardiff City tomorrow with Lewis Cook yet to recover from his ankle ligament injury.

Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn blooded Phillips at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday after the loss of Cook was compounded by the suspension of Rodolph Austin, and Redfearn is considering starting the 19-year-old again this weekend.

Cook suffered his injury during an appearance for England’s Under-19s last month and was seen wearing a protective cast during Leeds’ 4-3 defeat at Molineux.

Austin, meanwhile, is one game into a three-match ban and will not be available until United travel to Charlton Athletic next weekend.

January signing Granddi Ngoyi was named on the bench at Wolves having struggled with a thigh strain for the past two months but Redfearn admitted that the Frenchman was lacking match fitness and unlikely to be considered for a start tomorrow.

The shortage of central midfielders opened the door to Phillips, the latest player to emerge from an academy which has already provided four first-team regulars at Elland Road this season.

Redfearn described the teenager’s debut as a “baptism of fire” and said he was thinking about giving Phillips another outing against 13th-placed Cardiff City.

“We’ve got a doubt with Cooky and Rudy’s still suspended,” Redfearn said. “Granddi Ngoyi needs to train and get himself up to speed so Kalvin’s definitely in contention.

“Monday was a baptism of fire for him, in front of a big crowd and on television, but he handled himself well.

“For me he’s been ready for a while. It was a good opportunity to put him in and I thought the boy acquitted himself well.

“He’s a beautiful build for a midfielder. He’s got a good touch and range of passing.

“The more he plays and the more he grows accustomed to his surroundings, you’ll see a different Kalvin Phillips.”

Cook has missed United’s previous two matches against Blackburn Rovers and Wolves but Redfearn is hopeful that the 18-year-old will be fit before the end of the season.

“He champing at the bit but it’s an ankle ligament injury,” Redfearn said.

“I go off the physios and so does he.

“He’s been a big loss because he’s been outstanding this season.

“He’s had a great first season and he’s an exceptional player. When you lose good players you miss them.

“But we’ve got a duty to the lad. He’d run through brick walls for us but we’ve got to show some common sense.”

Redfearn, however, admitted that Tommaso Bianchi was unlikely to recover from knee surgery in time to feature in any of Leeds’ remaining five games.

Zan Benedicic – the Slovenian midfielder signed on a year-long loan from AC Milan last summer – has also been ruled out of the final month.

Benedicic has played only twice this season and has not appeared in a first-team squad since August. He had a knee operation in November.

“Zan’s long-term and (Bianchi) is still mid-rehab,” Redfearn said. “He’ll be a struggle before the end of the season.”

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