Kalvin Phillips responded brilliantly to ruthless chants made by Leeds fans about his weight during his first return to Elland Road as a Manchester City player. Phillips was left out of Pep Guardiola’s squad for City’s Carabao Cup defeat against Liverpool last week because he returned from the World Cup ‘overweight’.

But Phillips – who left his boyhood club to join City for £45m in the summer saw the funny side and responded by laughing and applauding the Elland Road faithful. He also reportedly ‘ballooned up his cheeks’ in a witty response to the mocking chants. 

While he was deemed fit enough for a place on the bench on Wednesday night, Leeds fans brutally chanted ‘You’re too fat to play for Leeds’ and ‘Kalvin Phillips, he eats what he wants’ at their former midfielder.

Although Guardiola sent Phillips to warm up, the England midfielder did not make it on to the pitch for City’s comfortable 3-1 win over Leeds with Erling Haaland grabbing a brace after Rodri had opened the scoring in the first-half. But when quizzed last week, Guardiola said: ‘He’s not injured – he arrived overweight. ‘I don’t know . He didn’t arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play.’

Pascal Struijk  who signed a contract extension at Leeds last week scored a wonderful glancing header from a corner but it would only be a consolation. The Phillips saga began when the midfielder was not included in Guardiola’s Carabao Cup squad last week despite seemingly being fit and well-rested, having made just two substitute appearances for England in Qatar.

Guardiola was much more complimentary about the midfielder’s fitness when asked about the possibility of Phillips appearing this weekend for City in their clash with Everton. ‘He has the perfect body now  so sexy,’ Guardiola said. ‘We will see for the weekend.’

‘He has spent the first part of the season out with surgery to arrive for the World Cup – and did everything to get to the World Cup. ‘It’s not just about just being fit you also have to understand what we want to do, the movements etc.

Having moved to the Etihad in July 2022, the ex-Leeds midfielder has endured a torrid start to his career at the reigning Premier League champions. Phillips has made just four appearances for his new club so far in 2022-23, having struggled with injury on a regular basis.

‘So that means, as quick as possible, because Rodri cannot play all the games, so as quick as possible he he will play. ‘But I’m happy that yesterday for example Kalvin trained really well and sooner or later he will play.’

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