Why Leeds United’s makeshift right-back Pennington was so impressive

Matthew Pennington, left.
Matthew Pennington, left.
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Jamie Clapham praised the performance of Matthew Pennington after the on-loan Everton centre-back was called upon to negate Oli McBurnie in Leeds United’s win over Barnsley.

Pennington could be utilised as a right-back again at Norwich City this weekend following the injury to Stuart Dallas which forced the 23-year-old to switch to that side of defence for Barnsley’s visit to Elland Road. Dallas suffered a hamstring injury in the build-up to Saturday’s game and was missing from Paul Heckingbottom’s line-up, ending his recent run as a makeshift right-back.

Leeds have no recognised options in that position with Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi out for the season through injury and suspension.

Ayling is recovering from ankle surgery and set to resume training in the next few weeks while Berardi’s campaign was ended by a five-match ban.

Barnsley’s goal in a 2-1 defeat came down Pennington’s side of the field but McBurnie – the key threat in Jose Morais’ line-up – failed to produce a shot on goal or any key passes.

“It was good for Matty Pennington,” said United assistant Clapham. “He was played out of position but he did really well against McBurnie who everyone’s talking about.

You can see he’s a talent, he’s got quick feet and he’s pretty strong as well. But Matty did well and the back four stood up to the challenge.

Jamie Clapham

“You can see he’s a talent, he’s got quick feet and he’s pretty strong as well. But Matty did well and the back four stood up to the challenge.”

Pennington is two games away from end of a season-long loan from Everton and despite fitness and form limiting his involvement, Leeds have already looked into the possibility of striking a permanent deal for the centre-back this summer.

His deal at Everton runs to 2019 but the Premier League club want to tie him to a further extension on the back of his spell at Elland Road.

Northern Ireland interantional Dallas, meanwhile, remains a doubt for this weekend.

“He had a tight hamstring so I don’t know if he’ll be okay,” Clapham said.