'Someone of that ilk' - Paul Robinson urges Leeds United reminder and outlines summer recruitment hopes
FORMER Whites 'keeper Paul Robinson has hailed Leeds United's fantastic efforts as a newly-promoted side and believes Marcelo Bielsa's men are three wins away from staying up.
Once top-flight survival is assured, Robinson believes United must strengthen the defence in the summer and hopes Leeds will go back in for Brighton's former Whites loanee Ben White to act as a double whammy as cover for Kalvin Phillips in midfield.
United are back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence but already sit 11th in the table and 14 points clear of the dropzone with 15 games left.
Only four teams have netted more goals than Leeds on their Premier League return and Robinson says United's poor defensive record is easier to swallow given the side's style of play and overall progress upon their top-flight return.
Robinson says it should not be forgotten that United are ultimately still a newly-promoted side and an outfit who are now as big as 250-1 to go down.
In Robinson's eyes, three more wins would ensure survival, after which the 'keeper would like to see the summer recruitment focus around one end of the pitch and with one player top of his wish list.
“They’re a fantastic team to watch and that’s why they’ve become a lot of peoples’ second favourite team," said Robinson, speaking to Bookmakers.co.uk.
“They’re very entertaining for the neutral and their own fans won’t criticise Bielsa for the amount of goals they’ve conceded because they’ve done fantastically well this season.
“There’s been a lot of expectation on them because of the way they play but let’s not forget that they’re still only in their first season back in the Premier League and just over half way in to the season I think they’re only three wins away from staying up.”
Assessing the bigger picture and looking ahead to the summer, Robinson said: "In the long run, if they are to stay in the Premier League, then I think the defence is something they’re going to have to look at because they make too many errors and concede too many goals from set-plays.
“They’ve conceded the second highest number of goals in the league and the goalkeeper has had to make the second most number of saves in the league, which tells you that there is an issue with the defending given the chances they concede.
“For next season, with the new part-owners (the San Francisco 49ers) on board, you’d hope there will be an opportunity for Bielsa to make some investments and buy some more top class players to strengthen that side of the team.
“They miss Kalvin-Phillips hugely in that defensive midfield role when he’s injured, they haven’t got anyone who can cover really.
“They’ve had a huge amount of bad luck with injuries to their centre-halves at different times this season and because of the amount of changes in personnel in the back four it’s been very hard for them to get any kind of understanding or continuity.
“A lot of the goals conceded have come down to defensive errors but for a manager defending set-pieces should be one of the easiest things to put right on the training ground. You need leaders who can boss that situation and they haven’t had that.
“It’s something that he will have to address.”
Robinson added: “I’d love to see them go back in for Ben White at the end of the season.
“I know they tried really hard to get him last summer because he was so influential for them in the Championship, but perhaps talks can reopen.
“He was the only one, when Phillips was injured, who was able to step into that defensive midfield holding role but he was also really important at centre-half last season.
“It’s looking like Brighton will stay up this year but I’d still love to see Leeds go back and test their resolve with a big bid because he fits so well into the system and I know he enjoyed his time at Elland Road.
“With the system that Leeds play he could excel at centre-half or in the defensive midfield role when Phillips isn’t available, because that has been one of the team’s biggest issues.
“If they can’t get Ben White, ideally it would be someone of that ilk, someone who is comfortable playing as a centre-half but also able to step into the holding midfield role when necessary.”
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Thank you Laura Collins