Leeds United are not the same team without Kalvin Phillips.
If our first season back in the Premier League has taught us anything, it’s that we need at least two players who are able to cover his position adequately.
And by adequately, we don’t mean Pascal Struijk.
Robin Koch was the man bought in the summer to solve the problem at centre-back and to provide cover for Phillips.
A long-term injury put paid to that and while he’s back in training this week, it will be a while yet before he’s back in contention for the first team.
Meanwhile, Leeds are floundering without Phillips. We’ve lost three of the last four and six of the eight games that he’s missed this season.
The current injury to Phillips is a real worry.
Initially, it was said that he might not miss any games after he limped off with an injury against Crystal Palace.
The last updates from Bielsa have been a real body blow.
Ahead of the Villa game, Bielsa warned about Phillips being rushed back too early and said that could make his injury situation worse. That got some Leeds fans panicking.
After the Villa game, the prognosis was not much better, with Bielsa saying it was too risky to say if he would be back for West Ham.
With a full nine days between Villa and West Ham, that really doesn’t sound very hopeful.
If Phillips doesn’t plat 45 minutes with the Under-23s on Friday we think there’s no chance he starts on Monday.
Leeds aren’t going to go down – we’re probably one win away from Premier League safety – but it’s hard to see us getting anything out of the next two tricky games, against the Hammers and Chelsea, if Phillips isn’t back.
Two defeats would put us on a run of five defeats in six that will get the pundits talking again, but really only serve to highlight a problem everyone at the club is well aware of.
In other Leeds United news, ‘According to sources’ – Phil Hay makes behind-the-scenes claim about Diego Llorente