Alex McLeish has admitted it was impossible to ignore the impact Kalvin Phillips’ return had on the Leeds United side against Arsenal on Sunday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the treble-winning ex-Rangers manager insisted the 24-year-old managed to transform the dynamics of the side with his presence in the middle of the park.
The homegrown Leeds star, who had missed three games with a shoulder injury, returned to the starting XI to help the Whites to a 0-0 draw against the Gunners.
The clean sheet came after two successive 4-1 defeats at the hands of Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
McLeish admitted Phillips’ impact was clear to see as the Whites managed to rediscover their “flow” following the international break.
“Listen, he’s playing in a specialist position and he’s doing it extremely well,” McLeish told Football Insider.
“He has been a loss for Leeds and I think you could see the flow of the team was different with him back at the helm of the midfield with people able to run beyond him and interchange as Leeds do.
“Phillips, it’s about getting the best players in your team, absolutely no two ways about it. I get asked about my last year at Rangers and I say we did have a shortage of experienced, quality players as we had in previous years.
“I guess the goal of every manager is to get the best players possible back into your team.”
Phillips has started six times for Leeds so far this season as he played every minute of the club’s opening five league games back in the Premier League.
Mateusz Klich and Pascal Struijk were the players tasked with filling the void left by the England international during his absence.
In other Leeds United news: ‘There’s no sympathy’ – McLeish suggests Elland Road star may be finished under Bielsa.