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From fringes to central figure: This Leeds midfielder is 2016 most improved player of the year

COMMENT By Will Butcher

Football Insider names Leeds most improved player of 2016.

Midfielder Kalvin Phillips has rapidly progressed from an exciting academy prospect at Elland Road to a central figure in Garry Monk’s side.

The 21-year-old’s stock has never been higher after establishing himself in the Leeds team this season, despite being rarely used by last season’s manager Steve Evans.

A member of Leeds’ hugely impressive Thorp Arch production line, Phillips joins the likes of Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram, Charlie Taylor and Lewis Cook who have progressed to the first team in recent years.

Making just two appearances for the Yorkshire giants in the second half of last season, Leeds’ number 23 is now a regular for Leeds after 25 appearances this season.

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Alongside the likes of Ronaldo Vieira, captain Liam Bridcutt and Eunan O’Kane, Phillips has shown that he has the potential to become a future Premier League player.

That was proved back in October after he held aloft the EFL Young Player of the Month trophy, which is awarded to players under 23 from the Championship, League One and League Two.

Possessing an eye-catching ability to predict what is about to happen, Phillips has shown a superb array of passing as well as an ability to contribute to the attack as well as an ability to score from dead-ball situations.

His superb effort in the 3-1 loss against Nottingham Forest was his second goal for the club, curling a long-range effort in to the top corner to score a consolation.

However, there is still plenty to learn for Phillips, as a rawness still tends to occur. His on-the-line handball against Brighton saw him receive his marching orders during the 2-0 loss.

Although not the perfect player, Phillips has been one of Leeds’ unsung heroes this season as they continue to challenge for an automatic promotion place.

In other Leeds news, Monk has opened talks to sign this Premier League forward.