By Football Insider speaking to Kevin Campbell

27th Feb, 2020 | 12:26pm

Exclusive: Bruce frets over 'Brilliant' Leeds ace after Bielsa update - 'Arguably the best'

Alex Bruce insists that Leeds United miss midfielder Kalvin Phillips “enormously” when he is absent through injury or suspension.

The former Whites centre-back, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes the 24-year-old has a huge impact both on and off the ball when he lines up for Marcelo Bielsa.

Phillips, who recently returned from a three-match ban, missed Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough due to a dead leg, with Bielsa confirming he is a doubt for this weekend’s clash against Hull City.

Bruce says that the defensive midfielder is the lynchpin in everything that Leeds do across the pitch and that having him miss out would be a massive blow to the rest of his teammates.

“Everything kind of fits into place around one man for me and that’s the man in the middle of midfield, Kalvin Phillips,” Bruce told Football Insider.

“When they’ve got him in behind those attacking players, I think he pulls the strings and links everything together from the back to the front. I think he’s a vital player and when he’s injured, I think they miss him enormously. 

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“It’s not just the performance levels it can have an effect on, your teammates, when you’ve got arguably the best player back fit, when you see him lining up and being on the pitch, it gives everyone else a lift.

“It just gives them that added lift when the likes of Hernandez and Bamford think: ‘We’ve got him behind us today, brilliant.'” 

Phillips has 33 appearances under his belt for Leeds this season, with Wednesday night just the fifth Championship game he has missed – the other four all coming as a result of suspension.

Leeds head to Hull five points clear of third-placed Fulham, while they are four points behind table-toppers West Brom.

In other Leeds United news, Michael Brown has been left drooling over one player “running the game” at Elland Road.