By Craig Scott

2nd Feb, 2020 | 6:47pm

Phillips raves about 'excellent' Leeds player who has 'been around a while'

Kevin Phillips has defended Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa for continually picking Patrick Bamford to spearhead his attack in the Championship.

Bamford, 26, has started all but two of Leeds’ league matches this season but has been widely criticised by fans for his failure to make the most of the opportunities he has to score.

The ex-Middlesbrough striker has scored 12 goals in 29 league appearances this season but that figure should really be a lot higher with Leeds created far more chances than any other team in the second-tier.

According to stats by WhoScored, Bamford has had 107 shots at goal this season, which is more than any other player in the Championship.

However, six players have scored more goals than him and all of them play for teams lower in the league and without having as many shots at goal.

Ex-West Brom striker Phillips can see why Bielsa sticks by Bamford as he reckons the forward offers a lot more to Leeds than just his goals.

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Phillips told Football Insider: “I think he brings a bit of everything to his team. Of course he can score goals. Is he prolific?

“He could score more but what he does is his hold up play is excellent, his work rate is second to none and he’s getting better and better.

“He’s been around a while Patrick, he’s been at a few clubs but he’s a player you can rely on and he brings other people into play.

“His style of play, Bielsa, he likes to play off the front, people, runners off him and his link-up play is very good.

“Of course he has chipped in with goals this year so that’s the reason I think he likes him.”

Bamford is a centre-forward so he is always going to be judged on the number of goals he has scored.

However Bielsa’s style of play does not require Bamford to be hitting the back of the net with his shots every time they go forward. Often, his tactics require Bamford to be involved in the build-up play beforehand.

But according to stats by WhoScored, out of the six strikers who have scored more goals than Bamford this season, all of them have completed more passes and more key passes than Bamford.

Five out of six of them have completed more dribbles than Bamford, four of them have supplied more assists and three have won more aerial duels.

Bamford does not stack up well against the rest of the division’s top scorers.

In other Leeds United news, fans have reacted to Tyler Roberts’ display against Wigan.