Noel Whelan has tipped Jamie Shackleton to start for Leeds United if Kalvin Phillips is unavailable against Arsenal.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker and lifelong Whites fan admitted he did not want to see Pascal Struijk, who has filled in for the 25-year-old already this season, moved out of his centre-back role versus the Gunners.
Marcelo Bielsa confirmed at his pre-match press conference, as relayed by Phil Hay, Phillips was a doubt for Sunday after hobbling off with a calf injury against Crystal Palace.
Latest from Bielsa's presser – Phillips is a doubt for the Arsenal game but no decision on him made yet. Hernandez out again. Llorente and Koch still missing. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) February 12, 2021
Shackleton replaced the England international for the dying minutes against the Eagles to make his 10th appearance of the season.
Whelan believes the 21-year-old, whose only Premier League start came in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa, is the ideal replacement, to join Stuart Dallas and Mateusz Klich in place of Phillips.
“Maybe Shackleton would be a good replacement in that position, I would have thought,” Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge.
“I don’t want to move Struijk out the way because we don’t have any other centre-halves and he’s playing so well there, it’d be a shame to move him from that partnership with Cooper.
“That is now growing and growing each week because we’ve not that had all season. That’s a really important part of the field and we’ve got to keep that partnership going for as long as possible.
“That’s the million-dollar question because they’ve got a really good relationship going now, Klich and Dallas in that midfield.
“Klich’s coming back to his best, I think, Dallas, well he’s just effective wherever you put him with energy and a good forward-thinking attitude when he plays in that role, he thrives on it because he’s an attacker at heart, he’s thriving and loving that role right now.
“No one can play the game like Kalvin can, we’ve seen people try and fail, we’ll have to watch this space.”