Andy Couzens has been discussing the left-back selection dilemma facing Marcelo Bielsa, weighing up the pros and cons of Barry Douglas, Gjanni Alioski, and Stuart Dallas going forward.
With Marcelo Bielsa looking to clinch automatic promotion at the second time of asking, the pressure is on his players to produce more consistency throughout the season than they did last time out.
One position that has raised a lot of questions ever since the start of the Argentine’s reign is the left-back slot, which was immediately strengthened upon his arrival with the signing of Wolves’ Barry Douglas, covered by Gjanni Alioski and then Stuart Dallas deputising in the event of both players being injured.
The Scottish international has struggled through multiple injuries and has failed to capture the form that helped his former side lift the 2017/18 Championship title, while Alioski hasn’t really shown consistency defensively, despite his attacking prowess.
Meanwhile, Stuart Dallas has been in exceptional form covering in both full-back slots and looks undroppable under Marcelo Bielsa wherever he plays.
In Leeds’ last match against Brentford, Dallas came back in at left-back for Alioski and looked much more assured in a more complete Leeds back four, offering more balance going both ways.
Couzens discussed the dilemma of who Bielsa should be picking for that slot in the starting lineup.
“It’s a tough one because Douglas has been injured quite a bit this year and I think his legs have gone a little bit,” the former Leeds man stated to Football League World’s Chief Editor Sam Rourke this week. “I think we need a little bit of pace in there, and that’s why Alioski has maybe taken that place.
“But, when Alioski plays, we look great going forwards but a little bit dodgy down that side. We have conceded goals from that position.”
After weighing up the costs and benefits of having the two more natural full-backs in the side, Couzens paid particular attention to the Northern Ireland international, who joined Leeds in 2015 as a winger.
He continued: “I like Dallas, I think he’s played well this year wherever he has been put. He’s a different proposition at left-back, he’s played very well at right-back.
“Personally, I’d go more down the route of Dallas, but the option is there for them to bring Alioski on to give us a little bit more impetus going forwards, and that’s why him and (Jack) Harrison have played the majority of games down that side.”
With Dallas seemingly Couzens’ choice for the foreseeable future, he signed off stating: “We’ve gone to Brentford looking to secure it up a little bit and that’s why he’s gone with Dallas.”