The goals have helped – three of them in total – but Stuart Dallas is one player whose stock has risen during Leeds United’s pre-season. Positively mentioned in dispatches from the club’s training camp, his performance in the weeks of summer has caught the eye of head coach Thomas Christiansen.
Dallas, a Northern Ireland international, is two years into his career with Leeds and might feel that he is yet to scratch the surface. He would also point out that this is the first full pre-season he has had in some time. It is not a coincidence that a meaningful break this summer brought him back to Thorp Arch in impressive form.
It’s really the first pre-season I’ve had since I came to Leeds. Even thinking back to when I was at Brentford, I didn’t really have a proper pre-season (because of international duty) so it’s been good for me. I feel fit and I’m ready to go.Stuart Dallas
A year ago, Dallas’ off-season was taken up by Euro 2016 and a honeymoon after his wedding. He returned late to training and took a month of the Championship season to settle back into United’s plans. From there he was in and out of the team, starting 20 games and scoring twice.
Christiansen used him as a substitute in Leeds’ final friendly against Oxford United on Saturday but Dallas came off the bench to seal a 2-0 win with a curling, 20-yard finish. Christiansen’s starting line-up at Bolton Wanderers this weekend, the first match of United’s season, is still up for debate but Dallas, who has one year left on his contract, has succeeded in pushing himself forward.
“It’s been a good start personally,” Dallas said. “Everything’s been positive since the new manager came in.
“It’s really the first pre-season I’ve had since I came to Leeds. Even thinking back to when I was at Brentford, I didn’t really have a proper pre-season (because of international duty) so it’s been good for me. I feel fit and I’m ready to go.”
Leeds have purposely strengthened both their options out wide and their choice of central midfielders, addressing two areas which held them back last season.
United finished seventh in the table having allowed a play-off position to slip away but their rise towards the top six came unexpectedly after their first six games yielded only four points, a tally which threatened to cost former head coach Garry Monk his job.
“It’s pretty important that we get off to a good start,” Dallas said. “Going to Bolton, we’re under no illusions about how hard it’ll be but we’re going there expecting to win. We can only take one game at a time and that’s maybe been the problem before. We’ve maybe looked too far ahead of ourselves.
“It’s hard for a new manger to look four or five games ahead. We’ve just got to look at Bolton. The manager’s openly said through pre-season that the most important thing is being ready for Sunday and that’s the way it is.”