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If Stuart Dallas is good enough for Northern Ireland, then he’s good enough for Leeds

Winger gets the start in crucial World Cup playoff match, should get the start against Middlesbrough

Northern Ireland v Switzerland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Many questions face the Leeds United squad during the international break, as the club is reeling with three losses in a row and only two wins in the last nine league matches. The selection dilemma that faces Thomas Christiansen has gone from being spoilt for choice to now desperately trying combinations that may result in a spark for the club.

One of the questions that has been raised in the past few weeks was only amplified during the international break. Many Leeds fans wonder exactly what Stuart Dallas has to do to get a start for his club side. Dallas has been used as a bench option pretty much from the very beginning of the season, with Gjanni Alioski, Pablo Hernandez, and Samu Saiz all preferred as options on the left wing at various times during the season. Dallas last got a start for Leeds against Derby County at left-back and didn’t feature against his former club Brentford.

Despite having a number of options on the wing, Christiansen has often been loathe to change things up, usually starting the same lineup with only a few changes, not taking the opponents or situation into account. Even when Christiansen has promised changes, the lineup and formation has basically remained the same. And while it’s nice that Christiansen is showing faith in his players, he might be blind to an opportunity.

Stuart Dallas played very well for Northern Ireland in their two-legged World Cup play-off. And while Northern Ireland may have suffered heartbreak in not qualifying, Dallas certainly didn’t look out of place on the big stage. In fact, Dallas was one of the stand-out performers. And after such a good performance, it begs the question: Why isn’t he starting for Leeds?

Leeds needs to change some things up if they are to stop the rot. And while left-back has been a huge problem for Leeds this season, Dallas isn’t necessarily the answer. Dallas is much more responsible defensively than Pablo Hernandez or Samu Saiz, and while Christiansen tried to shoe-horn his two most creative midfielders into the side, the team exposes the left-back to endue pressure, and without a top left-back in the squad, Leeds have been burned badly down the left side. And while Dallas isn’t going to be as creative as Hernandez, he can score and provide service into the box, something that has been sorely lacking during the rough patch of form that has plagued Leeds for about two months.

Stuart Dallas should start on the left wing, and only should play at left-back if Leeds needs to chase the match to get a win. He can help out defensively and hopeful Leeds can stop giving up late goals, as the fullback, be it Vurnon Anita or Gaetano Berardi, can count on Dallas to track back and limit the pressure.

So while it might not be the most radical of changes, Stuart Dallas is an obvious change that should be made by Christiansen against Middlesbrough this weekend. At this point, changes need to be made, and after his performance for Northern Ireland, Dallas should be given a chance to show the same for Leeds.