International boss has 'no doubts' over Leeds United midfielder despite early season difficulties
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has 'no doubts' over Stuart Dallas' form as the Leeds United man returns to international duty.
Dallas, who missed last month's Northern Ireland games through personal reasons, was more like himself in the Whites' win over Watford on Saturday but so far in the current campaign has struggled to hit the heady heights he achieved last season when he was voted Leeds United Player of the Year.
Marcelo Bielsa admitted as such before the recent game against West Ham United, saying: "[His performances] have not been at the same level last year, I think you knew this when you asked me about it.
"There are reasons to understand why it's not that way. Every game he plays, he plays a little bit better than the previous one. I have every confidence that next Saturday or the following Saturday, or in a short space of time, he's going to come back to his high level. It's not that I have confidence - I am sure of it."
Dallas' national team boss has a similar level of confidence in the midfielder, whose versatility has been as useful for country as it has for club.
Baraclough says Dallas' life in football will have developed in him a strength to be able to deal with adversity when it comes.
“All players go through peaks and troughs in their careers and Stuart has had to deal with many ups and downs, whether it is as a Northern Irish player in the Irish League or when he first came over to England, going out on loan to Northampton,” he said.
“The journey he’s been on, it’s been well documented. We’ve spoken about it so many times. He has the strength of character to get through tough periods.
"Whenever he has been called upon for Northern Ireland, he’s not been found wanting, so I have no doubts about him.”
Dallas' involvement in this international break looked in doubt when he had to go off against Watford late on with an injury, but he still joined up with Northern Ireland this week. They take on Switzerland in Geneva on Saturday in a vital World Cup Qualifying clash, before an equally important trip to Bulgaria next week.