By Kevin Phillips

2nd Oct, 2021 | 8:30pm

Phillips raises fears over six Leeds players after what he saw against Watford

Kevin Phillips has suggested Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to work with a smaller squad at Leeds United could “come back to bite him on the backside”.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Sunderland striker admitted he was alarmed by how many youth players have been on Leeds’ bench in recent weeks.

Six of Leeds’ nine substitutes against Watford on Saturday have played predominantly for Mark Jackson’s under-23 side this season.

Of the six, only Charlie Cresswell had any Premier League experience under his belt.

That came last weekend when the promising centre-back made his first top-flight appearance against West Ham.

Injuries and suspensions, particularly in defence, have forced Bielsa to fill his matchday squads with young talent.

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Phillips admitted Leeds’ backline has been “all over the place” this season.

As such, he suggested the decision to try and work with a small squad may be a mistake from Bielsa.

Phillips told Football Insider’s Dylan Childs: “I think Leeds will always create opportunities.

“We know this season, defensively, they’ve been all over the place conceding goals. That’s unlike them Leeds from last season.

“When you’ve got under-23s on your bench, it’s not ideal. We know Bielsa likes to work with a tight squad, a smaller squad. Maybe that’ll come to bite him on the backside.

“They’re shipping goals whereas last season they weren’t. That’s an area that needs to be looked at.”

Of the substitutes against Watford, Kristoffer Klaesson and Leo Hjelde are still waiting to make their senior debuts for Leeds.

Meanwhile, Stuart McKinstry, Sam Greenwood and Joe Gelhardt had each made just one appearance for the first team.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal Leeds United have sent top scouts to watch player who tormented Manchester United.