Leeds’ Stuart Dallas losing place to Luke Ayling would be a travesty, says journalist

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…

Speaking on episode 67 of Yorkshire Evening Post’s Inside Elland Road podcast, journalist Graham Smyth has given his thoughts on Luke Ayling’s comeback and his competition alongside Stuart Dallas.

What’s he said?

Leeds returned to winning ways last weekend as they went top of the Championship courtesy of goals from Mateusz Klich and Eddie Nketiah.

The U23s were then in action on Monday night as they thrashed Watford 6-0. Featuring in that encounter was Tyler Roberts and Luke Ayling, fresh from injury troubles.

The latter underwent ankle surgery over the summer and has yet to feature for the first team in 2019/20. However, after scoring and assisting for the youth team earlier in the week, he looks ready and raring to go.

Despite that, Smyth has suggested it would be a travesty if Dallas lost his place for the newly returned defender. He told the Inside Elland Road podcast:

“As of last night [Monday], Luke Ayling can once again play football. I don’t think anyone would suggest that he comes straight in for Dallas because that would feel like a travesty because of the way Dallas has played. Ayling is back and that’s another great option off the bench.”

Fierce competition

Considering Dallas’ performances a rivalry between the pair could be about to ignite at Elland Road. The competition will be healthy and it’ll be a welcome dilemma to have by boasting two accomplished full-backs.

Ayling was a key player for the Whites in 2018/19, appearing 40 times and racking up six assists along the way.

But Dallas has stepped in confidently and via WhoScored, he’s achieved an average match rating of 7.16 in the opening weeks of the season.

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He scored against Stoke, showing he has the capabilities going forward while he’s also been consistent at the back.

The Northern Irishman has made 1.9 tackles per game and has also managed 1.1 interceptions each outing.

With Leeds conceding just three goals so far it’s difficult to see why he would be ousted and as a result, Ayling might have to bide his time before coming back into the starting XI.

It would certainly seem harsh on Dallas if he wasn’t suddenly picked.

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