Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Phillips relishes going toe to toe with Boro

THE ONE constant in the first seven Leeds United starting XIs selected by Marcelo Bielsa has been the presence of Kalvin Phillips.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action against Swansea City.

It is a sign of the growing importance that the midfielder enjoys at Elland Road and a responsibility the man himself is relishing.

“I am 22 and I am full of energy,” said Phillips ahead of tonight’s top-of-the-table clash with Middlesbrough.

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“I am just happy to be pulling on a white shirt every week and, hopefully, I can do that for the rest of the season.”

Phillips is expected to retain his place in what will be a much-changed side following the midweek Carabao Cup exit to Preston North End.

“Middlesbrough will be very physical,” he said about tonight’s televised clash. “They have got a lot of big players and we are expecting an aerial game, which is what we have been working on.

“Games like this are why we are here. These are the ones we want to play in. We want to be up there and whether we are first, second, third or fourth, we are still going to treat it like any other game.

“We are just looking forward to getting out there and putting the disappointment of Tuesday night behind us and getting a victory.”

As for Bielsa and the impact he has had on Phillips’s game, the midfielder added: “I think he has improved it quite a lot.

“Playing a different position suits me really well. I have also been playing centre-half so I think it just kind of gets me used to playing different positions and being aware of people around me.

“He won’t take anything less than 100 per cent and that is what I am trying to do.”