Leeds United will be enriched by return of midfield star Kalvin Phillips against Brentford, says Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds United will once again be ‘enriched’ by the presence of midfield enforcer Kalvin Phillips when they travel to promotion rivals Brentford tonight.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:04 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:12 pm

Phillips has missed the last three games through suspension, having been sent off for a rash tackle against Queens Park Rangers.

Marcelo Bielsa felt they were able to replace the 24-year-old in the win over Millwall and defeats by Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest, with Ben White filling in for periods, but the Whites head coach welcomes the return of a key man.

“He has always been an important player,” said Bielsa.

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“In those three matches he wasn’t there, we could replace him without feeling he wasn’t there.

“But always counting on him makes our team more rich.”

Bielsa has been able to count on Phillips for 27 of Leeds’ 31 Championship games this season, with suspension accounting for his four absences.

The youngster has made the sixth-highest tally of tackles in the Championship this season, having played at least three games fewer than all five players who have made more.

Kalvin Phillips returns to Leeds United's line-up after a three-game suspension, for the trip to Brentford (Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

And on the ball, he ranks second among the division’s outfield players for accurate long balls, second for long key passes – the pass directly before the recipient has a shot – and 14th for accurate short passes.

His return to Bielsa’s midfield will allow Ben White to return to the heart of the defence with Luke Ayling expected to revert to right-back.

Stuart Dallas could, potentially, take Gjanni Alioski’s left-back position, after the North Macedonian endured a difficult outing at Forest, but Tyler Roberts won’t feature at all.

The attacker was caught on the calf by a challenge, after coming on as a substitute at the City Ground, and Bielsa lauded his bravery for staying on the pitch.

“He is not going to play tomorrow, he took a strong kick,” said Bielsa.

“There is no injury, just a big kick.

“It’s incredible with this kick he continued in the match. He proved he is really engaged with the team and was brave to continue playing.”

Jean-Kevin Augustin, who made his first-team debut off the bench at Nottingham Forest, was not involved in Monday’s Under-23s win over Bolton Wanderers.

But new winger Ian Povdea played 45 minutes, with first-team squad players Gaetano Berardi and Barry Douglas each making 30-minute cameos.