Noel Whelan claims that Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas is not at risk of losing his place to Luke Ayling when the defender returns from his injury layoff.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker and lifelong supporter of the club was left raving over the Northern Irish international’s performances in the early stages of the season, having been moved to a right-back role in his teammate’s absence.
Ayling was Bielsa’s first-choice on the right-hand side of the defence last season but has missed the start of the new campaign after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury.
Whelan says there is little chance of him stepping right back into the starting XI when he does return to fitness, heralding the impact and improvement that Dallas has shown in his new position.
Asked if he could see Dallas losing his place to Ayling, Whelan told Football Insider: “No, he’s been absolutely magnificent. The energy levels, the quality, his defending’s got better, his quick passing – you can see he’s enjoying that role and he’s a joy to watch.
“When he gets forward there’s quality there, he looks dangerous. We questioned his defending at times but he’s been educated, his got more intelligent in defensive areas and he’s great to watch at the minute. He’s got a smile on his face, he never seems to lose his energy levels.”
Dallas, 28, has featured in all five of the club’s Championship games this season, having featured 30 times across all competitions during the 2018/19 campaign.
Ayling, 27, who has not been given an official return date from injury, played 42 games for Leeds last season, a knee ligament injury keeping him out between November and December 2018.
In other Leeds United news, Whelan has revealed to Football Insider that one Whites star was left “gutted” after victory over Brentford.