Ahead of Bristol City’s clash with Leeds United, Bristol City assistant manager noted that because of the absences through injury and suspension that Leeds have been using Northern Ireland international winger Stuart Dallas at right back.
Bristol City assistant manager Jamie McAllister is quoted as saying,
They’re a top six side for me.
But they’ve got a few suspensions. We’ve got a few suspensions, a few injuries as well, but it’s all about Sunday, 11 v 11 on the pitch, who turns up, who makes less errors really,
We’re confident with the group we’ve got at the moment and we can go and cause them problems on Sunday.
The boy Dallas has come in at right-back for them, who’s not a natural right-back, he’s more of a midfielder, so there’s a little change there. They’ve signed some good players in the window and they’ve got some quality in their team.
But are Leeds actually more likely to surrender a goal with Dallas at right back? Leeds lost 2-1 to Sheffield United last weekend with Dallas playing at right back. The first Sheffield United goal came from a wonder strike from Billy Sharp after Kemar Roofe had allowed cross to come in from the left that was deflected by Eunan O’Kane.
The second Sheffield Untied goal came when O’Kane “fouled” a Sheffield United player in the box. While perhaps Luke Ayling could have gotten to O’Kane poorly clearance or been in position to block Sharp’s shot, it’s not as if Dallas was directly responsible for either goal. He wasn’t the man of the match or anything, but Dallas did do a pretty decent job filling in.
Against Cardiff City, Dallas came in after 29 minutes to replace the injured Pontus Jansson and the damage had already been done against Leeds. After Berardi had been sent off, Leeds switched to more of a three at the back system, meaning that Dallas was allowed to get forward as a wingback/winger and it was his cross from which Sol Bamba scored an owl goal for Leeds. While Dallas wasn’t transcendent as a right back against Cardiff, he was at least decent.
He did play at left-back in the bad loss at home to Derby County, but again, he wasn’t necessarily at fault with either of the goals that were scored. Dallas was forced into a role as left back with the number of suspensions and injuries, and after Vurnon Anita was injured against Burton Albion, Dallas came on at halftime play at left back. The match was pretty much a steamrolling for Leeds, so he didn’t really have to play much defence anyway.
Dallas has come off the bench a few other times to play as a fullback a few times this season. Dallas did not acquit himself well at the end of the Millwall match, as a turnover from his throw directly lead to a goal for the visitors. He came on for the injured Conor Shaughnessy against Hull City and played at right back, and while he wasn’t great, he was decent. He also did come in at left-back against Sheffield Wednesday and did not play well at all, but he was hardly the only one that match.
So is Dallas a liability? Well, he’s not a traditional fullback by any means, and his defending can sometimes be not as sharp as an actual defender, but he can stretch the field and get crosses into the box. With Leeds under Heckingbottom expected to line-up in a more defensive formation than Christiansen had used, Dallas will not be expected to carry as heavy a defensive load as he will have earlier in the season.
If Leeds fail to defend well against Bristol City it won’t be because Dallas was played out of position, it will be because the team failed to defend well, not because of a single player. Dallas is as much of a defensive liability as has been claimed.