Leeds United pundit predicts key role for Shackleton after Marsch reveal

By Noel Whelan

9th May, 2022 | 1:34pm

Leeds United employee predicts central Jamie Shackleton role after confirmed news

Noel Whelan has claimed Leeds United youngster Jamie Shackleton is the “natural option” to replace suspended right-back Luke Ayling for the final three games of the season.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 22-year-old must rise to the occasion with the Yorkshire side locked in a three-way relegation fight.

Ayling will miss all of Leeds United’s final three games of the season against Chelsea, Brentford, and Brighton after receiving a straight red card for serious foul play during Sunday’s (8 May) 2-1 loss against Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Football Insider revealed on Friday (6 May) that the Whites fear utility man and stand-in right-back Stuart Dallas could miss all of next season with his leg injury worse than first feared.

Shackleton has made 13 appearances in the Premier League this term but hasn’t featured since February having recently returned from an injury of his own.

As per Leeds Live (8 May), Jesse Marsch suggested he could move a centre-back out to the right side of his rearguard for the run-in.

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Whelan suggested Shackleton’s “attacking presence” makes him the top candidate for the role.

“Straight away, Shackleton came to my mind,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“He’s played in that position before, he’s box-to-box, lots of energy. He’s quite similar to a Luke Ayling in that regard – he likes to get forward but has also got the defensive capability as well.

“I think he’s the more natural option. He’s not the first choice, but needs must. He needs to rise to the occasion now.

“If we were to move a centre-back into that position, that wouldn’t give us the same attacking presence.

“That’s something we really need in these games.”

In other news, Leeds United have set their sights on signing West Ham destroyer.