Marcelo Bielsa has been tipped to use his contacts in South America to lure a “brilliant” and proven midfielder to Leeds United.
That is according to former Scotland manager Alex McLeish who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Whites might try to find an experienced star, rather than a youngster, to bolster their squad.
Phillips has been a mainstay for Leeds this season and was sorely missed as he sat out Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Brighton through suspension.
It was the fourth match the 25-year-old has missed in the Premier League this season, all but one of which ended in defeat for Bielsa and his men.
McLeish believes adding a specialist defensive midfielder to the squad would be a big boost for Leeds and suggested the Argentine boss could look in and around his homeland for a new recruit.
Asked if he thought Leeds would be looking to sign cover for Phillips, McLeish told Football Insider: “It’s difficult for Leeds but if it’s a young protege, if there’s a young guy out there, more or less, that’s willing to come in and be an understudy Philips, possibly.
“Bielsa and his cohorts would probably know the South American market, for instance, and maybe bring an experienced player in who maybe can’t play every week but he has a brilliant marshalling of the field, who just knows where to go.
“Someone who gets on the ball easy and you think: ‘Go press him,’ but it’s just the knowledge, and possibly Bielsa needs somebody like that, a guy that he can trust, from the South American market, to play in that kind of role.
“If it’s a youngster, fine, the youngster knows he is going to be schooled but if it’s an older player then perhaps he knows the score as well and it maybe suits an older player’s career.”
Versatile enforcer Pascal Struijk, who has played as a centre-half for much of the season, filled in for Phillips in the defeat to Brighton.