By Noel Whelan

26th Oct, 2020 | 4:00pm

'I didn't see that coming' - Exclusive: Whelan reacts to Kalvin Phillips-Leeds update

Leeds United have showed they can live without Kalvin Phillips after their masterful display against Aston Villa.

That is according to former United star Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about how Marcelo Bielsa’s side dazzled in the absence of their midfield star.

Phillips missed out against Villa with a shoulder injury but Leeds triumphed 3-0 against Dean Smith’s in-form side as youngsters Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton stood in for the England international.

Leeds publicly stated that Phillips could be out of action for as long as six weeks, although sources have told Football Insider that the midfielder could be back sooner against Arsenal after the international break.

Asked about the latest news on Phillips’ injury, Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s a disappointment but maybe it’s something we needed to have a little look at as well – can we have life without Kalvin there?

“I think Friday night showed that we can. I didn’t see that coming, but I think the lads that were injured will be so proud of the players, the way they went about their business and the way they handled everything against a very good Aston Villa side.

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“It goes to show that we do have the quality and we do have that strength when we’re missing three international players – not just players, but international players – that we can go and put in a performance like that.”

Struijk, who is a centre-back by trade, started in Phillips’ holding midfield role but he was withdrawn by Bielsa after just 21 minutes after collecting a yellow card.

Shackleton replaced his fellow youngster and delivered an outstanding display as United upset the form book and the odds with a memorable win.

In other news, Darren Bent tips ‘superb’ Leeds United youngster for big new role after sighting.