Exclusive: Whelan baffled as Leeds plot raid for PL ace who can play midfield & defence

Noel Whelan revealed he was baffled by Leeds United plotting a swoop to sign versatile Chelsea defender Reece James given that he is primarily a right-back.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Laura O’Leary, the ex-Leeds forward shared that he found it strange that Marcelo Bielsa’s side would be considering adding another right-back to the squad in January.

As revealed by Football Insider, Leeds are keeping close tabs on Chelsea’s rising star Reece James as a long-term target, including a possible January loan option.

Whelan admitted that Leeds could be thinking about playing James in a different position but admitted with Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas and Jamie Shackleton on the books, right-back wasn’t an area of the team he was concerned about.

When asked whether it was strange Leeds were keeping tabs on James, Whelan told Football Insider: “Yes! It’s strange.

“Obviously Luke Ayling is back now, you’ve got Stuart Dallas who undoubtedly has been one of the best players for Leeds this season in my opinion, so it’s a position we look healthy in.

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“It’s not like we’re going to be lacking options as there are so many that can play that role, even Shackleton can play right-back or as a right-back wing.

“Unless they’re thinking they can utilise him in other positions, it does seem a bit strange as right-back is one area we are covered and have quality players to cover if there are injuries or suspensions.”  

James is yet to feature for Frank Lampard’s side in the Premier League this season but has featured twice for the first-team by playing against Lille in the Champions League as well as against Grimsby Town in the EFL Cup.

At Wigan on loan last season, he not only played right-back, but also in central defence, right wing and in central midfield.

The 19-year-old has been carefully used at Chelsea this season following an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for 96 days. 

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