Stuart Dallas backs Northern Ireland emerging talent as Leeds United utility man brings campaign to close
Stuart Dallas has backed Northern Ireland's emerging talent after finally bringing his lengthy campaign to a close.
Leeds United's utility man and official player of the year has enjoyed a stunning twelve months at club level.
The 30-year-old helped the Whites earn promotion to the Premier League last summer before going on to play out a stellar campaign in the top flight.
Dallas then headed away with Ian Baraclough s men for two end of season international friendlies with his country against Malta and Ukraine.
He earned praise for not taking the easy option of turning down a call-up to head away for an earlier break from action after a gruelling and condensed fixture list.
Dallas featured in all 38 league games under Marcelo Bielsa this term, scoring eight goals and bagging two assists from a number of positions.
Head coach Baraclough named a fairly young squad for the two Northern Ireland fixtures - including Whites academy product Alfie McCalmont - as a nod to the future after the Green and White Army narrowly missed out on qualifying for this summer's Euro 2020 tournament.
“Everyone has been in that position when they are new into the squad and it’s important the senior lads put an arm around the younger ones and give advice when it’s needed,” Dallas told the Belfast Telegraph.
“It can be a daunting experience but the young lads have done really well.
“The way they have applied themselves on and off the pitch, around the team hotel, is testament to them.
“Going forward, these kids can be the future but it’s important we don’t put too much pressure on them.
“They have been brilliant and it’s a joy for the senior lads to be around them.
“I think the future is bright, but it’s a big ask for them and it’s important we try to bring them in at the right time, and give them all the experience they need.
“Definitely I’m excited about it going forward. The manager is and the whole group is."
He added: "It’s been a good season for me and my club and obviously this is just finishing it off now before I can get a break."