Long-term injuries suffered by Leeds United defenders Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi has left manager Marcelo Bielsa in a vulnerable position with more than seven weeks until the transfer window opens, but he should call upon Conor Shaughnessy to solve any potential crisis.
Well, injuries to Ayling and Berardi – both of whom would be able to cover at centre-back if needed – has highlighted the lack of depth in the Yorkshire outfit’s backline, and while they have the players to come in and do a job at full-back the same perhaps can’t be said for at the heart of the defence.
Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson are the only senior and available centre-backs right now, but if either were to pick up an injury or suspension – something which could happen over what is going to be a busy couple of months on the pitch – then Bielsa would have some big decisions to make.
Having made nine Championship appearances last season and 14 in total, the 6ft 3in Shaughnessy should be trusted take up the mantle in any potential crisis even if he has only been on the pitch once – for 45 minutes in the EFL Cup – under the Argentine boss in a competitive fixture this term.
The deep-lying midfielder has been one of the Whites’ outstanding performers this season, but he has also covered in a three or four-man defence on occasion as it is a role Bielsa clearly feels he can play.
While that is absolutely fine, there is no doubt that the 22-year-old is better slightly further forward preferred position, and that is where he would rather be on the pitch rather than dealing with opposition strikers.
Bringing Shaughnessy into the starting XI during any potential upcoming crisis would allow him to remain there, which would be good news for him and Leeds.