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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Samuel Oliphant

Kalvin Phillips can solve Man City problem by proving Pep Guardiola right

England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, 27, signed for Manchester City last summer for a fee of £45million from Leeds United. However, since joining the club he has only managed 152 minutes of action in all competitions for City and is yet to start a game in the Premier League.

Last season Phillips featured 20 times in Leeds’ season of fighting relegation, winning just five matches in which he was involved and losing six. Across the two seasons prior to the former Leeds man joining City, he completed an average of 48 passes per game, and created six big chances from a defensive-midfielder role. He was also very astute defensively, having an average tackle rate of 49 per cent.

City fans would have been excited to see what Phillips could bring to the side after performing impressively in his first season in the Premier League followed by an even better showing at Euro 2020, where he was named England’s 2020/2021 Men’s Player of the Year.

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Not amassing as many minutes last season due to injury, he still managed to impress in the games he did feature in. The Yorkshireman would have seen it as a challenge to take Rodri’s place in the starting XI, however, at the moment it looks like one he may never overcome.

Accumulating just five minutes in the Premier League this season, it has not been the dream move he would have hoped for before the season got underway. A one-minute introduction in City's opening day victory against West Ham at the London Stadium and more recently a four-minute appearance off the bench in a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge have produced a disappointing 12 total touches of the ball in the Premier League since arriving at the club.

Between these appearances, Phillips has either not been included in the squad or has been recovering from injury. Notably, he had to undergo surgery on his shoulder following an injury he had suffered which kept him out of action for nearly two months between September and November, but since then has had to make do with a seat on the bench.

Phillips would have been delighted to have found out he was going to be travelling with the England squad to the World Cup in Qatar, despite not amassing many minutes this season. But upon his return, he was left out of the squad that defeated Liverpool 3-2 in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

He has found most of his game time whilst playing in the Carabao Cup, managing to accumulate just over 100 minutes for the club and getting his first competitive start under Pep Guardiola against Southampton at St. Mary’s where City were knocked out of the competition.

It would have left a sour taste in his mouth, as the team as a whole did not perform to a high standard and managed no shots on target. The England international will be crossing his fingers that this start marks the true beginning of his career at City following a frustrating start to the season.

Guardiola has said it will take time and that Phillips is important to the team as it's vital that City have back-up for Rodri, it's up to the player to prove him right.

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