Leeds United were dealt with a massive setback this week as they announced the injury of Kalvin Phillips. The midfielder suffered a shoulder knock during the Wolves game that should keep him out for at least six weeks. It will serve as a massive blow for manager Marcelo Bielsa, and the Argentine must come up with a quick solution in the vacant holding midfield role.
Here, at The 4th Official, we will take a look at three Leeds United players who can replace Kalvin Phillips over the next month or so.
Robin Koch seems the most likely option in Bielsa’s bid to replace Phillips at the moment.
The German international has played at defensive midfield position before, during his time at SC Freiburg. He has the ability not only to read the game but also distribute possession, thanks to his technical prowess. Also, his imposing 1.91m frame is always helpful in the second line of press.
Since joining Leeds United in the summer, Koch clearly hasn’t had the smoothest of transitions into the Premier League. But, he has improved significantly over the past few weeks, and the 24-year-old is indeed Bielsa’s best and most reliable replacement for Phillips in the current roster.
Mateusz Klich might be a more natural solution to Bielsa’s problem in the holding midfield role.
The Pole has been an ever-present figure in the Leeds United lineup, but he primarily features in a slightly advanced midfield role. His aggression and work-rate are essential to Leeds’ second line of press.
Throughout his career, Klich has had minimal experience of operating in holding midfield. However, his defensive game has mightily improved under Bielsa, and the 30-year-old’s brilliant ball recovery could potentially make him an asset in the number six role.
Pascal Struijk is an unlikely but a great option nonetheless, as the youngster’s inclusion in the team will not alter the current roles of the first-team stars.
Struijk was, in fact, entrusted with the role of replacing Phillips when he got injured during the backend of last season. Although Ben White eventually replaced the 21-year-old, he does seem like an interesting candidate.
Indeed, Struijk is an aggressive individual who certainly knows how to pass the ball. Additionally, the youngster can win back possession for his team, boasting a tall 1.9m frame.
Thriving in that holding midfield role could always be a challenge for any youngster, but with little support from Klich, it won’t be surprising to see the Dutchman prosper in the absence of Phillips.