Amid all the talk of Gjanni Alioski being offered a new contract and the potential arrival of a new left-back, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa might want to consider looking closer to home for someone who could really nail down that role for years to come.
Niall Huggins made his first team debut for the Whites when he came on as a second-half substitute in the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League last season, while he has been a consistent performer for the under-23s.
The 20-year-old played 17 times in Premier League 2 Division 2, scoring twice and assisting once, helping the Whites’ youngsters clinch the title and promotion.
After a particularly impressive display earlier in the season for the under-23s, Leeds Live‘s Joe Donnuhue waxed lyrical about the starlet, even suggesting that he could be set for some first team football sooner rather than later.
He wrote: “In the second half, Huggins tucked back in to left-back as Leif Davis was withdrawn at the break. His effort levels were a class above, as he is almost every week. If he continues in this vein, he will not be far off more regular first-team squad involvement.”
Kalvin Phillips is also a fan of the 20-year-old, revealing that he could be set for a first team role in the not too distant future. The England midfielder commented last summer: “We’ve got a few younger lads called Niall Huggins and Alfie McCalmont. They’re really good young players as well. They’ll be in the team in the next year or so, definitely.”
Meanwhile, Huggins himself has said: “To push that step forward at Leeds, you have to be able to run, do everything intense, everything is done as fast as you can. They want you to be at the top of your game, and for them, that means they want you to be on target weight type, body fat is low, to be able to keep that intensity up for the full 90 minutes.
“And if you’re not, then unfortunately, you could end up not playing. It’s that strict.”
Dubbed as someone with “pace to burn“, the Welsh youngster clearly knows what it will take to make his mark in the Premier League with Leeds under Bielsa, and he just needs an opportunity to impress.
While Alioski might be the talk of the town right now as the club consider giving him a new deal, the left-back slot may be Huggins’ to lose in the years to come.