Noel Whelan claimed that Leeds United defender Luke Ayling was capable of putting pressure on Stuart Dallas regarding his first-team spot.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds attacker revealed that Ayling closing in on full fitness once again will make him feel like a new signing for Marcelo Bielsa but admitted the right-back wouldn’t walk back into the first-team.
Whelan explained that in Ayling’s absence, Dallas had stepped up and had impressed him so much that he believes the Northern Ireland international is a contender for player of the season.
When asked about Ayling returning to action for the U-23’s, Whelan told Football Insider: “Yeah it’s great when you get these players back as it’s like a new signing.
“Now he’s back fit, raring to go and I’m sure he will be putting pressure on Stuart Dallas who I think has been exceptional this season, one of the players of the season so far in my eyes, due to how he has gone about his business as he has been getting forward and he is already off the mark with goals.
“He’s got a lot of work to do for Marcelo Bielsa to make him his right-back of choice due to how Stuart has been playing, he looks so fit, so strong and he seems to be enjoying his football, which is great to see.
“He is playing with a smile on his face and he is enjoying all sides of that wing-back role, getting forward, scoring goals, creating goals and defending, I think that is one of the areas he has really brushed up on.”
Ayling hasn’t featured this season for Leeds due to injury but was regularly called upon in the 2018/19 campaign as he made 42 appearances across all competitions.
In his absence, Dallas has featured in Leeds’ first eight Championship matches of the season and has helped keep four clean sheets as well as contributed a goal.
In other Leeds United news, Danny Mills has torn into one senior player that “doesn’t look sharp” this season.