Former Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson bemoaned Leeds’ quality of depth following the impending suspension of Kalvin Phillips – and believes Marcelo Bielsa will have to take a gamble on 19-year-old Alfie McCalmont to step in with the midfielder banned for three games.
Phillips’ red card at QPR last weekend leaves Leeds with a selection dilemma, particularly as Bielsa has been reluctant to rotate his squad too often this year, with the likes of Phillips, Mateusz Klich and Stuart Dallas missing just one league game between them.
Speaking to MOT Leeds News, Robinson insisted that McCalmont should be chosen as the man to come to the Whites’ rescue – while taking a swipe at the club for not having the strength in depth to handle the current situation.
He said: “Without a doubt [McCalmont should replace Phillips]. However, it’s a blow that we haven’t got someone equally as good to bring in. McCalmont is 19 years old and he has only played 65 minutes in the League Cup. Players of that age and of little experience being used for a Premier League push – it’s a gamble. However, it’s a gamble they have to take. There clearly isn’t the strength in depth to cope with losing the likes of Phillips for three games.”
Is Marcelo Bielsa capable of taking Leeds United up?
Indeed, McCalmont has little over an hour of action under his belt this season for the first team, with both of his appearances this term coming in Leeds’ short-lived EFL Cup campaign back in August.
Though the fact that he was included among the substitutes for their weekend defeat in west London could be a sign that he has been lurking in the back of Bielsa’s mind as a potential replacement – not that he may have prepared for this particular eventuality to unfold.
Bielsa will have had plenty of time to decide how to play these next three games without Phillips, with Leeds not in action until next Tuesday as the FA Cup takes centre stage next weekend.
And it seems whether he selects McCalmont or the likes of Jordan Stevens or Jamie Shackleton, it could indeed be a case of backing a more untried prospect to man the fort while Phillips serves his ban.
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