By Kevin Phillips

15th Oct, 2021 | 8:00pm

Phillips bemoans Raphinha 'massive blow' after Leeds team news latest pre-Southampton

Kevin Phillips has claimed Raphinha’s possible absence against Southampton on Saturday would be a “massive blow” for Leeds United.

The former Sunderland striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 24-year-old’s participation could help the Whites “kickstart their season” by stringing together consecutive league wins.

Just 34 hours ahead of the Premier League clash, Raphinha dazzled with a two-goal performance during his full debut in Brazil’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay in Manaus.

He now faces a race against time to join up with the Leeds United squad on the south coast.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference yesterday, manager Marcelo Bielsa refused to shut the door on involvement for Raphinha.

He insisted the club would assess the risk of fatigue in the winger.

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Phillips hailed Raphinha’s “impact” for Brazil and named him as one of Leeds United’s most important players.

“First and foremost, Raphinha is an exceptional player,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“I would say Kalvin Phillips is Leeds’ most important player, but he doesn’t come too far behind him.

“It’ll be a massive blow if they didn’t have him available, especially with how they’ve started – they need to kickstart their season and get some points on the board.”

“They’ve got a tough match at Southampton, who themselves haven’t started very well.

“But personally, for Raphinha – what an impact he’s had at the start of his international career. Especially for a country who have some absolute class in their ranks.”

As quoted by Globo yesterday, the winger’s agent Deco named Liverpool among “many clubs” interested in the Leeds United star.

He cost the Whites a reported £17m last summer.

In other news, pundit predicts tough comeback trail for Leeds star.