Luke Ayling hails 'different class' Stuart Dallas and reveals relief at his Leeds United playing position

Leeds United travel to Hull City on Saturday lunchtime
Luke Ayling on Leeds United's Stuart Dallas. (Image: Bruce Rollinson)Luke Ayling on Leeds United's Stuart Dallas. (Image: Bruce Rollinson)
Luke Ayling on Leeds United's Stuart Dallas. (Image: Bruce Rollinson)

Stuart Dallas has found his home at left-back, much to the relief of his Leeds United team-mate Luke Ayling.

The Northern Irish international began the season at right-back, filling in for the absent Ayling who was recovering from summer surgery on an ankle problem.

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Dallas' form made him an early contender for Player of the Season and raised questions over how easy Ayling would find it to get back into Marcelo Bielsa's starting XI.

As it happened, injuries in other positions meant Ayling did get back in, in his preferred right-back position, because Dallas was required elsewhere.

And Dallas is now churning out impressive performances at left-back, a position that has caused some issues for Leeds this season.

Ayling is a big fan of his fellow full-back, but much prefers to see him settled on the left side of the defence and not contending for the right-back role.

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"Stu is brilliant," said Ayling, ahead of today's early kick-off at Hull City and after Leeds secured a third consecutive win and a third consecutive clean sheet at Middlesbrough in midweek.

"He's played four or five positions this year. He's probably been our best player every single time he's played.

"I'm glad he's found a home at left-back and not at right-back, so I'm pleased with that."

Jokes aside, Ayling, who hasn't missed a single game since returning to full fitness at the start of October, is full of appreciation for the effort Dallas puts in for the Whites and performances that suggest the Cookstown native is at his very best.

"He's brilliant, he runs all day," said Ayling.

"He gets up and back and he's in the form of his life.

"He's different class."

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The pair of 28-year-old defenders are expected to retain their places in Bielsa's starting line-up for today's trip to Hull City.

Doubt remains over defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who failed a fitness test for the Boro game, and striker Jean-Kevin Augustin will definitely miss the derby according to Bielsa.

The Frenchman, who arrived in January on loan from RB Leipzig and has played just 48 minutes of Championship action, has picked up a hamstring injury.