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Aapo Halme should play in defence until Liam Cooper comes back

It’s a better idea than you think.

Norwich City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

So I tweeted this during the match against Hull City, and I still think it’s a good idea.

Kalvin Phillips is a decent central defender, and he’s certainly grown into the position over the past couple of weeks. And I also understand the idea of when something’s not broken, there is no need to fix it. However, if Leeds are to resume their stellar passing play and opening up of defences, Phillips needs to go back into the midfield and Aapo Halme needs to go into central defence.

Halme is a natural central defender, and he’s a Finland U21 international. He’s got experience playing first team football for HJK Helsinki in Finland, and he looked nervous, but otherwise fine playing against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Now, he doesn’t have the experience of Liam Cooper, but he’s got skill, and sometimes that’s enough.

Luke Ayling is another player that can go into the backline, but he’s such a good fullback that it would be taking away another player out of position to fill in at central defence. Jamie Shackleton’s got pace and enthusiasm, but Ayling’s more experienced and is also a much better defender than Shackleton at fullback.

Moving Phillips back to the defensive midfielder role he played for most of the season would allow either Adam Forshaw or Maetusz Klich to get a rest, as one would play next to Pablo Hernandez, or Marcelo Bielsa could once again move Hernandez back to the wing and have Forshaw and Klich play in front of Phillips. Manchester City loanee Jack Harrison hasn’t proven that he can be trusted to be a 90 minute player for Leeds United right now, so it would get Harrison to a substitute role. It could also allow for Hernandez to finally get a rest.

No matter what actually occurs, moving Phillips back to midfield makes the most sense for Leeds right now. Phillips is a better midfielder than he is defender, and while he’s filled in brilliantly, the team just seems more balanced with him playing in front of a back four rather than part of it.