This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Stuart Dallas is a key member of the Leeds squad and his versatility is a pivotal factor in the team challenging for promotion.
The Northern Ireland international is into his fifth season at Elland Road and it seems that with each passing year his importance to the team becomes greater.
Fans certainly appreciate his flexibility and know that without him filling in at various positions the team would be a lot worse off.
The 28-year-old is able to play at either wing and in both full-back positions, and when injury-prone players like Luke Ayling and Barry Douglas are part of the squad that means Dallas performs a key role.
He has operated in centre-midfield this season too but has mostly been used at right-back, and it was that experience which served him well playing on the left against Luton, with five tackles made as well as achieving a pass accuracy of 88%.
That shows he is well suited to both the defensive and attacking aspects of the role, and his energy in getting up and down is vital to the press and containing the opposition attack in his own final third.
As mentioned, both Ayling and Douglas can be unreliable in terms of their fitness, but the former has also underperformed since returning to the side, and there is a good case to suggest he should be dropped for the match against Reading.
Dallas, as always, is ready to be called upon and willing to perform in whichever position Marcelo Bielsa puts him in, and more often than not he puts in an impressive shift – as fans can attest to.
The key for the Argentine may be how comfortable Dallas is in possession. He rarely gives the ball away and that is key to the Bielsa’s style, in pinning down the opposition and offering a threat on the overlap.
Ezgjan Alioski has provided that at times this campaign, too, and has two goals to his name, so Bielsa could consider recalling him to the side and playing Dallas at right-back, even though it’s Ayling’s natural position.
Regardless, Leeds have lost just three of the 17 games Dallas has started, and that has justified Bielsa’s decision to play him at full-back, as well as showing how useful he is to the team’s prospects of promotion.