Noel Whelan has revealed to Football Insider he was “stunned” that Marcelo Bielsa selected Kalvin Phillips for the Under-23s just 24 hours after Leeds United’s Bank Holiday Monday defeat to Brentford.
The midfielder was surprisingly axed from the United starting XI for the Whites for the 2-0 loss at Griffin Park after starting 40 of their Championship matches this season.
Bielsa then gave the green light for the home-grown star to play for the Under-23s the following night in their Premier League Cup semi-final against Newcastle United.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan could not fathom why such a key member of the Leeds side was risked for a youth team game after such a draining campaign, which could extend for a further five matches if the club reach the play-off final.
“I was stunned,” Whelan said. “As soon as I saw that, I thought, ‘what are you doing?’ I don’t care if it was an important cup game for the Under-23s. The only goal this season is to get promotion.
“We have to keep everybody fit. To name someone so integral to our promotion hopes in the Under-23s after all the games he has played this season, I did not get the meaning of that.
“There is the risk of Kalvin getting injured. Leeds already have a small squad and can’t do without him. That made no sense from Bielsa at all.”
Phillips is in contention to return to the Leeds starting XI for Sunday’s Championship clash against Aston Villa at Elland Road.
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