Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch believes Kalvin Phillips is missing being at Elland Road after making a slow start to his Manchester City career.
Phillips has made just four substitute appearances for City, totalling 54 minutes on the field, since joining from boyhood club Leeds in a reported £42million deal in July.
The 27-year-old has had a number of injury issues, though he recovered from shoulder surgery in time to be part of England’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
However, just when he appeared ready to make his mark at City, boss Pep Guardiola overlooked Phillips for selection against Liverpool last week for being “overweight”.
As Phillips’ new team prepare to travel to his old one in the Premier League on Wednesday, Marsch acknowledged both Leeds and Phillips are still adapting five months on.
“We still miss Kalvin,” Marsch told reporters. “He came to one of our matches, Fulham, and you could see he felt the pain of losing that match with us after the match.
“He missed being here. Of course he misses being here – he misses the guys, he’s got a lot of great friends here, this club is in his heart.
“Kalvin was such a good player, but for me he was a really likeable, heart-warming person to have around the team.
“He got along with everybody here, with the older players, as well was the younger players, with me as well as the academy coaches.
“The hardest part of replacing Kalvin was making sure that we still had the feeling of what Leeds United is, what it means to be from Leeds, what the history of the club means.”
Phillips joined Leeds at the age of 14 and progressed through the academy, before going on to make 234 appearances for the first team, along with his first 23 England caps.
Should the midfielder feature at Elland Road on Wednesday, Marsch expects him to handle the occasion well and potentially use it as a turning point in his City career.
“It felt like he belonged here, that this was his home,” Marsch said. “I’m sure that even when he made the decision to leave that was a big part of the difficulty.
“Coming back, I think he will revisit those emotions and I think it will bring the best out of him. That’s the kind of person he is.”