Leeds United are set to be without Kalvin Phillips for the next six weeks after the midfielder suffered a shoulder injury in the 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Monday night.
The Whites haven’t had it easy under Marcelo Bielsa when it comes to injury concerns, with each season presenting new issues for the Argentine to overcome in his squad.
Promotion to the Premier League looked set to alleviate some of the physical burden on his players with less games being played over the course of the season, but Leeds haven’t seen the benefit of the lessened schedule yet as injuries continue to put pressure on the squad.
The latest in the line of defensive injuries is star defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who suffered a shoulder injury following a hefty challenge from Wolves’ match-winner Raul Jimenez.
With Leeds looking at six weeks without the Yorkshie Pirlo, we look at two alternatives that Marcelo Bielsa has to consider for the upcoming games…
The German international signed from Freiburg having played a large chunk of last season in a similar holding midfield role in the Bundesliga.
Signed as a Ben White replacement, Koch has already shown his prowess both defensively and when in possession, taking to the Leeds United side with ease.
Phillips’ long-range distribution is one of the main things that we will need to replace, rather than his defensive capabilities (which we know Koch can cover).
So far, apart from the unfortunate penalty concessions, Koch has barely put a foot wrong in a Leeds United shirt and he seems the most logical candidate to step into holding midfield given his broad range of abilities in and out of possession.
Having him in the middle also gives us some much-needed height and aerial presence as well, something that Phillips knows is somewhat weak about his current game.
It’s a fairly unfamiliar role for the Poland international but one that is not completely alien to him in a Leeds United shirt.
One of Klich’s best (and most underrated) performances last season was at home to Millwall in the thrilling 3-2 win, where he was tasked with controlling the midfield from Phillips’ spot whilst he sat out with a suspension.
Having come back from a 2-0 deficit, Klich’s positioning and control of the tempo was a key reason for why Leeds were able to turn that game on its head in the second half.
The Premier League is obviously a different proposition and stopping Jack Grealish is harder than stopping Jed Wallace, but he certainly has the credentials too to step in and do the job in holding midfield.
What playing Klich there does for other positions is beneficial too, meaning Koch can stay at the back and stop the defence from becoming more unsettled, as well as allowing for Pablo Hernandez to step back into the starting lineup after recovering from injury.