Marcelo Bielsa has total confidence Stuart Dallas can be a big hit in the Premier League if Leeds United secure promotion this season, Football Insider understands.
The Northern Ireland international, 28, has reignited his career after being converted into a full-back by the United manager in the new campaign.
Dallas has started all 10 of Leeds’ Championship matches at right-back and was handed a new four-year contract last month.
Bielsa has demonstrated his faith in Dallas by making him a key member of the Leeds side that top the Championship table after their 1-0 win over West Brom last night.
But the Argentine believes Dallas has not yet reached his ceiling as a player and believes the long-standing second tier player can make the step up to the next level.
A Leeds source has told Football Insider how Bielsa is convinced the 2015 signing from Brentford can be a “major Premier League force” if they go one better than their third place finish of last season.
Dallas has spent almost the entirety of his career – including 156 appearances for Leeds and 75 for Brentford – as a winger. In the Football League.
He was on the fringes of the United team during BIelsa’s first campaign at the helm, making just 12 starts in their 48 league and play-off matches.
But he has taken advantage of a serious ankle injury sustained by longstanding right-back Luke Ayling, also handed a new four-year contract this week, to assert himself as a regular starter.
It is quite a turnaround for the 39-times international, who has dramatically improved his defending while using his attacking skills to provide a key outlet on the overlap.
Ex-striker and lifelong fan Noel Whelan watches all of Leeds’ matches and believes Dallas is going to be a hard player to shift from the starting XI.
“Will Ayling get back in the side?” he told Football Insider. “I don’t think he will play in place of Stuart Dallas. Absolutely not. The way Dallas is playing it’s very difficult for Marcelo Bielsa to leave him out.”
Bielsa has showed a knack during his 16 months at Leeds of backing the right horses.
His transformative powers have reignited a few flagging careers, and Dallas may be one of his best hunches yet.
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