Robin Koch makes Kalvin Phillips admission and Leeds United midfield vow ahead of Manchester United opener
Robin Koch says the Euros success of Leeds United team mate Kalvin Phillips came as no surprise - and that he is comfortable covering the Yorkshire Pirlo as and when required.
German international defender Koch is approaching his second season with Leeds and the 25-year-old has largely been deployed in the holding midfield role during this summer's friendlies.
The Whites 'CDM' position is one that team mate Phillips has made his own, catapulting the Whites Academy graduate into the England picture en route to becoming a stand out performer at this summer's Euros.
Philips started every single game as England reached the final - defeating Germany on the way - and only three outfield players from any country played more minutes in Three Lions team mate John Stones plus Italy duo Jorginho and Leonardo Bonucci.
After only a short break, Phillips has consequently been used sparingly in pre-season meaning Koch has stepped up from his regular position as centre back into the middle of the park.
Koch says he would have no issues if continuing to be deployed there, although the German has huge admiration for Phillips and never once doubted what he could achieve at the Euros.
"For me, it was not surprising," said Koch.
"He is a top player with how he plays his game every time and it was not surprising that he could perform in a big tournament like this also.
"He texted me after the Germany and England game.
"We couldn't see each other after the game so he texted some days after the match and now I am happy to see him back here in the dressing room.
"It's always fun to play with him or train with him on the field and to play with him in the games.
"Of course, in this game, Germany against England, we are not friends for 90 minutes but after this game we are friends again!"
Leeds will begin their second season back in the Premier League with Saturday's clash against arch rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Whites head coach Bielsa says that Phillips is available to feature but that he would naturally need more time following his exertions at the Euros.
"He's done a different type of work, a more brief one," said Bielsa.
"The preparation time he had was half that of his team mates but he's done this in a very serious manner with a lot of dedication and he's in conditions to have options to participate.
"But it's natural that the time he needed to be prepared has not been completed yet."
Asked about himself featuring heavily as a CDM in United's pre-season friendlies, Koch said: "I played also in Germany sometimes as a midfielder so for me it's nothing completely new.
"Of course my main position is centre back/centre half but for me it is not a big problem to play in midfield.
"It's nothing completely new for me."
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Thank you Laura Collins