Stuart Dallas looks likely to get the nod at left-back tomorrow as Marcelo Bielsa handles the loss of Barry Douglas to injury.
Douglas is out of Leeds United’s clash with Brentford at Elland Road after pulling a hamstring in Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Hull City and Bielsa hinted that winger Dallas would be handed a first league start of the season ahead of young defender Tom Pearce.
Dallas, who suffered a thigh injury early in the term, has been forced to bide his time under Bielsa with the Argentinian reluctant to make unenforced changes and Leeds in form at the top of the Championship.
The injury to Douglas, however, will force Bielsa to alter his starting line-up for the first time in six matches tomorrow and Dallas could take on a defensive role - despite Bielsa admitting that his best position lay further up the pitch.
United’s head coach said he saw similarities between Dallas and Gjanni Alioski, who has played on the left wing all term, and revealed that he had considered starting the Northern Ireland at other points in the campaign.
“Dallas is like Alioski but on the right,” Bielsa said. “Alioski’s style is offensive, even though he defends very well, and the style of Dallas from my point of view is more defensive, even if he attacks very well. Both of them can play on each side.
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“In the last two international games Dallas played, he played very well and he played as a winger. If we take into account both games, he played 50 per cent of the time on the left side and 50 per cent of the time on the right side.”
Pablo Hernandez is Bielsa’s first choice on the right flank but the Spaniard has been carrying a hamstring strain since United’s 3-0 win at Norwich City last month. On-loan Manchester City winger Jack Harrison is covering for Hernandez’s absence but Bielsa has turned regularly to Dallas as a substitute.
“In the last games we played, the first offensive substitution we made was Dallas,” Bielsa said. “Dallas knows how to play deep, he makes very good crosses with both legs. He’s very skilled at starting from a point below the ball and cross the line of it.
“He has very good coordination to know when he has to sprint and take the free space.”
Twenty-year-old Pearce would be a more natural replacement for Douglas having played at left-back throughout his time in United’s academy and during his run of first-team appearances last season.
Bielsa said: “We have the solution of Dallas and before Douglas arrived, he played an important role as a left-back. We also have Tom Pearce and without minimising the importance of Douglas, we are always prepared.”