Dominic Matteo has claimed that the Leeds United team has looked totally unbalanced without “crucial” player Kalvin Phillips recently.
The defensive midfielder has missed the last three consecutive Premier League games with a shoulder problem, meaning he’s had to watch from the stands consecutive 4-1 defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City before the international break.
He is a senior England international that started the league campaign in great form and was pivotal in promotion from the Championship last year for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
The Yorkshire giants host Arsenal at the weekend in the league and Phillips has confirmed (Leeds Live) he’s hopeful he can get an injection that will allow him to play in that fixture.
Matteo rates the Leeds-born midfielder as someone worth £40million-plus and he’s explained why he’s so pivotal at Elland Road.
“With Kalvin not out there in the last few weeks we have really missed that person who can do the donkey work but also who has composure on the ball to keep it when we need to,” Matteo told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“He has been a huge loss and for Marcelo to try and replace him is a huge task because of his clear importance to the side.
“You’re talking about a £40-or £50-million rated player in terms of how crucial he is to his team and its set-up. Without him in there it does feel like Bielsa doesn’t quite have the balance of the team right and I think that has been evident in the way they have shipped goals.”
Phillips is the midfield enforcer that helps joins the dots for Leeds when he plays, as he sits in front of the defence covering the back four and he’s often looking to get the ball forward quickly whenever he’s in possession.
It’s been an extremely difficult task for manager Bielsa in recent matches to find a solution without injured star Phillips, which is why it’ll be a huge relief if he’s available to play against Arsenal.
His absence alongside teammate Rodrigo has been most noticeable on the pitch and it’s vital the Whites get their key men back quickly.