Phillips tips Ayling and Dallas for new Leeds roles against Newcastle after crushing new blow
Kevin Phillips has tipped Luke Ayling to start at centre-back for Leeds United against Newcastle United this evening.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the Premier League icon suggested Stuart Dallas can move to right-back to cover for Ayling.
Leeds are in the middle of a defensive crisis ahead of the trip to St. James’ Park.
Marcelo Bielsa revealed in his pre-match press conference (September 16) that both Diego Llorente and Robin Koch will miss the fixture with injuries.
Meanwhile, Pascal Struijk will serve the first of a three-match ban after the Whites lost their appeal on his red card against Liverpool last weekend.
Llorente limped off after 33 minutes of that game with his third hamstring injury since he moved to Elland Road last summer.
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Koch has not featured since playing the full 90 minutes of the 5-1 defeat to Manchester United on the opening day.
It leaves club captain Liam Cooper as Bielsa’s only senior option while Under-23s captain Charlie Cresswell is also an option.
However, Phillips has tipped the Argentine to partner Ayling alongside Cooper.
He told Football Insider assistant editor Dylan Childs: “Ayling has shown he can play in that position. He’s almost got no choice.
“I’d rather have that experienced player who has played for such long time just to slot in there. He’s one of the senior members of the squad. Dallas, we know, can fit in at right-back.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes with that system and sticks him in there. It’s almost the only sensible option.”
Ayling featured at centre-back on multiple occasions last term as Llorente and Koch both struggled with injuries.
Another option for Bielsa tonight would be to bring young Jamie Shackleton in at right-back and keep Dallas in midfield.