'It takes its toll' - Leeds United utility man Stuart Dallas questions Northern Ireland's international triple-header

Many of Leeds United's international players could face three games in 10 days for their nations.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:02 pm
Leeds United's Stuart Dallas reacts against Fulham. Pic: Getty

Stuart Dallas has questioned the need for the current triple-header international break amid an already gruelling season but accepts “it is what it is”.

The Northern Ireland international is currently away with his nation as they begin their World Cup qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022.

Ian Baraclough’s men face Italy and Bulgaria in Group C with a friendly against the USA sandwiched in between.

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Dallas has been an integral player under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road amid a compact campaign following last year’s elongated season amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has started for Leeds United in all 29 of their Premier League fixtures this term - scoring five goals and bagging two assists - and is now away with Northern Ireland for a third time.

“People probably think that it should be no problem to you but it does take its toll on you,” Dallas admitted to BBC Sport.

“Three games in 10 days are hard because you are travelling, trying to recover, training and then you’re playing the games.

“It is difficult, especially when you have been playing a lot for your club. I don’t think it should be a triple-header if I’m honest, but it is what it is.”

Dallas has been deployed in both full-back positions and in the centre of midfield under Bielsa in the top flight. The 29-year-old says he is happy to play anywhere for both club and country.

“I’ve been switched about for the past two or three years so I am used to it now,” he said.

"I've played in midfield for my club in recent weeks, it is a role I am growing into and I'm becoming more comfortable the more I play there.

"I'm used to playing in full-back or wing back and I think that is where my best performances for Northern Ireland have been.

"It's the manager's decision, we'll meet up on Sunday and I'm sure we will have a conversation about it then."

Green and White Army boss Baraclough will lead his squad into his first full qualifying campaign as manager following the departure of Michael O'Neill last year.

Northern Ireland lost to Slovakia in a play-off for a spot at this summer's European Championships in November but Dallas says he and his teammates are still hungry for success.

"We have a new manager and it will take time for his thoughts and how he wants us to play to come through," he added.

"The Slovakia game was obviously a disappointment and I think we should have won it, but we are hoping to put in a good few performances.

"We have a tough game away to Italy in the first match, everybody knows how good they are, but we have had a look at how they play and we can go there without any fear.

"We don't want to be a team who is just turning up to fulfil fixtures. We want more success and we are hungry for it."