LEEDS United head coach Uwe Rosler has hailed the latest precocious talent at Elland Road, saying of teen midfield star Kalvin Phillips “he will not let himself, or the team or myself down.”
Phillips is the latest Whites Academy product to graduate to United’s first team with the 19-year-old midfielder earning rave reviews from his first start of the season and only third start in total through Sunday’s goalless Championship draw at Reading.
And while Rosler admits the teenager will likely drop back to the bench when Lewis Cook and Luke Murphy return from suspension and injury respectively, there is no hiding the esteem in which his head coach holds him.
Cook serves the second game of a three-match ban by missing Wednesday night’s Championship visit to Bristol City while Murphy and Tommaso Bianchi continue to work their way back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery in the summer.
Asked if Phillips was about to follow former Academy stars Cook, Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt and Sam Byram into becoming a first team regular, Rosler told the YP: “I think we will not do any players a favour when we are putting them in at the deep end - living or dying.
“There are certain periods where we can allow players who don’t have a lot of experience to throw them in and see how they cope.
“Kal coped very well in my opinion throughout the (Reading) game. He raised himself up to the level, to the tempo, to the intensity.
“I already saw that continually in pre-season - against Hoffenheim and against Frankfurt but when everybody is fit I don’t think Kal will play week-in, week-out.
“But he is always pushing and he will always put pressure on the established players.
“He is one that throughout the whole year has big potential to develop and to get more and more playing time.
“At the moment, he benefits from the suspension of Cooky and also from the injuries we have for Luke Murphy and (Tommaso) Bianchi and he is using his chance.
“He is earning my trust by giving me performances like he did against Reading because I felt I can trust him, I can play him and he will not let himself, or the team or myself down.
“For such a young player like him that is a big compliment.”
Phillips may well start again at Ashton Gate on Wednesday evening with Rosler hinting that Alex Mowatt might be rested.
Mowatt was last season’s player of the year but looked to be feeling the effects of a demanding early schedule when withdrawn after 73 minutes of Sunday’s goalless draw at Reading.
Rosler admitted afterwards that Mowatt was looking “leggy” and the Bristol clash comes less than three days before Saturday’s Championship visit of Sheffield Wednesday.
Asked if Mowatt would start at Ashton Gate, Rosler replied: “I think with certain players we have our observations with our eyes and it’s sometimes backed up by the stats – the physical stats we get from the games. We will consider to put out the best teams on Wednesday and on Saturday to win football games, that’s all I can say.”
With Cook serving the second game of a three-match ban, Rosler also has the option to give Murphy his first start of the season with the 25-year-old continuing on the comeback trail.
Murphy came on as a second-half substitute in both Thursday’s Capital One Cup loss at Doncaster Rovers – and during Sunday’s goalless draw at Reading.
Bianchi is another player recovering from summer surgery and Rosler said: “Under normal circumstances, Luke should have gone now for more of a training programme.
“But of course we are missing Cooky which is a big blow for us so already Luke has to be with us on the playing side. He has been coming on, getting vital playing experience and we will get him fit, we are nursing him to get him fit through games. I think for Luke it is important to come through to the international weekend and then we have another building block of fitness.
“Tommy Bianchi is then also ready to have another building block of fitness and we hope after the international weekend Luke is ready to play 90 minutes on the trot.”