McLeish cites Van Dijk as Leeds hit by shattering new Phillips blow

Leeds United losing Kalvin Phillips to injury is comparable to Liverpool missing Virgil van Dijk, according to Alex McLeish.

The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted it appeared to be nearly impossible for Marcelo Bielsa to find a solution to cope with the midfielder’s absence at Elland Road.

Bielsa confirmed at his pre-match press conference on Thursday the 25-year-old would be unavailable once again against Wolves after a calf injury ruled him out of the defeat to Arsenal.

 

Leeds have won just once in the five games the midfielder has not featured in this season, with Leicester City, Crystal Palace and the Gunners all managing to net four times against the Phillips-less Whites.

McLeish admitted the homegrown star was proving irreplaceable for Marcelo Bielsa and compared the loss to that of van Dijk at Anfield.

McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “He is a bit of a talisman and the results have been a win one week, a loss the next.

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“They’re keeping their Premier League dream going, very much so and you would imagine they’d be here next year to re-strengthen.

“Philips has been fantastic when he’s in the team, they have another kind of rhythm when he’s there and it just shows you the importance of individuals.

“It’s hard to get a player to replicate him, if you play the same system then it will be very very difficult.

“It’s just the same as it’s hard to replace Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool. They’ve got one of the best coaches in the world and he’ll be exasperated with losing the big fella for the whole season.”

In other news, Paul Robinson claims Leeds United, Tottenham and Liverpool are in a race to sign Brighton defender Ben White this summer.