Marcelo Bielsa refuses to rush Kalvin Phillips back from injury despite Leeds' star man returning to training... as he confirms Patrick Bamford will miss the next two games with an ankle issue
Marcelo Bielsa is refusing to rush star man Kalvin Phillips back to action despite Leeds' poor start to the season.
The England midfielder missed last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Southampton because of a calf and hip problem, which also ruled him out of international duty earlier this month.
Fans are desperate for Phillips to return against Wolves on Saturday, with Leeds hovering just one place above the relegation zone with only one league win so far this campaign.
But despite the 25-year-old training at Thorp Arch, United boss Bielsa insists it would be too big a risk to play him this weekend.
'Kalvin is healthy, but he has not competed for three weeks,' said Bielsa. 'If he played on Saturday it would be far too quick. After three weeks out it's necessary for more training.
'At this stage he has done sessions for recovery and physical preparation and progressive work with the ball. To think of him for Saturday would be too soon before his best.'
Leeds' other England international, Patrick Bamford, is also out with an ankle injury and Bielsa confirmed the striker is set to sit out the next two games, although Brazilian forward Raphinha is back.
Bielsa also admitted the past week has been one of the most difficult of his Elland Road reign as he looks to pick up his players following their loss at St Mary's.
Southampton became the first team to cover more ground than Bielsa's Leeds in a Premier League match last week, a stat Bielsa said he 'observed with worry'.
'Perhaps there's been five or six weeks, but this was among the most difficult,' he added. 'At Southampton, the distance between what we were looking for and what we got was very far and that was deserved.
'For me, it was a very sad week, but in a parallel way, when errors are made and I know the errors we made, I know they could have been avoided if I had managed more efficiently.
'I have a lot of strength, energy and willingness to avoid what happened there again.'
PHILLIPS' DREAM COMES TRUE
Despite a stuttering start to this season due to injury, it has been a year to remember for Kalvin Phillips, with the highlight coming in the summer at Euro 2020.
The Three Lions midfielder put in some stellar performances, leading to him being awarded England Men's Player of the Year... and now things have got ever better.
Phillips has now fulfilled a childhood dream by being presented with a Blue Peter Badge for his England performances, while also remaining committed to helping kids at grassroots level.
Phillips and Blue Peter joined the McDonald's Fun Football session at his boyhood club Wortley FC in Leeds earlier this year, where he surprised the kids who also received a badge, to help showcase that anyone can have fun playing football - regardless of their ability.
Speaking about the sessions, Phillips said: 'It was so great to be back at Wortley and see all the kids getting into football for the first time. To see these kids having fun with their friends at the sessions is what it's all about. That's why as an ambassador of McDonald's Fun Football programme, I'm excited to get even more kids enjoying football and growing the game further.'
The current registrations for Fun Football end this month, to find your local session head to mcdonalds.co.uk/football