During an interview with Football Insider, Gabby Agbonlahor has urged Leeds United to sign another midfielder as an alternative to Kalvin Phillips. The former Aston Villa star thinks that the absence of the key midfielder has clearly been felt at Elland Road this season and the club must go back into the market for a reliable replacement.
“He’s not there, and they’ve suffered from that. But you can’t rely on one player because you’re going to get a lot of players injured every season in every team especially as the games are so congested now. So maybe Leeds need another Kalvin Phillips to fill in for him when he’s not available.”, Agbonlahor told Football Insider.
How Have Leeds United Fared Without Kalvin Phillips?
Phillips picked up a shoulder injury in the defeat to Wolves back in mid-October. It was supposed to keep him out on the sidelines for six weeks, and the midfielder has already missed three Premier League matches.
Leeds United’s first game without Phillips this season was against Aston Villa where they won 3-0. Pascal Struijk was brought in as his replacement in the number six role but was hooked off early due to a yellow card. His replacement Jamie Shackleton did extremely well, ending up as one of the best performers in that game.
Since then, however, the Whites have struggled to find any solidity in the holding midfield role. Mateusz Klich was not a fit in that withdrawn midfield position against Leicester City while Struijk failed to impress in the most recent game against Crystal Palace as Leeds once again lost 4-1.
Without the presence of Phillips, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have lacked assurance during the possession phases. His ability to read the game in the middle of the park has also been missed while his tendency to move into the deeper role has now been replaced by Robin Koch moving up, a move that has backfired badly.
Here’s Why Leeds United Need A Backup
Bielsa, no doubt, has no shortage of options as far as the midfield department is concerned. However, a closer observation suggests that Klich is much more suited to an advanced midfield role, where he is free to press the opposing ball-carriers. The same can be said for Shackleton.
As for Struijk, he is way too inexperienced and won’t be afforded chances enough to settle himself into the number six role. He struggled in that role once even in the Championship last season, so using the Dutchman only as a backup for the central defenders make more sense at this point.
Hence, the Whites must come back into the market for a reliable alternative for Phillips in the upcoming January transfer window. The club haven’t particularly been linked with any player as such, but it will be exciting to see if Bielsa makes a move for someone like Orel Mangala of VfB Stuttgart.