Leeds United suffered a significant injury setback recently as Luke Ayling sustained a knee injury which can conceivably put him out of action for two months. However, they are going to be boosted by the return of Barry Douglas who was a big miss down the left flank in the last few games and missed all the action in the previous month. There has been a lot of chopping and changing in the left-back position because of that, and his timely return is probably going to solve a bit of a worry for Bielsa in light of the Ayling situation.
The left-back recently played in Leeds’ u-23 game against Hull City and Bielsa would be glad that his summer signing is close to regaining full match fitness. Incidentally, it was the game against Hull City where Douglas limped off in the last few minutes on the second of October, and since then, he has been a big miss.
With two tough fixtures against Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion coming up, Bielsa would hope that the former Wolves left-back hits the ground running straightaway after coming back.
The manager has exploited Douglas’ attacking outlet well by giving him complete freedom to barge forward. The Whites often morph into 3-3-1-3 formation against the lesser teams and Douglas ends up playing down the left-hand side in midfield.
The Scotsman is very much a Premier League quality player, and it was a surprise that Wolves allowed him to leave in the summer. Last season, the 28-year-old managed a whopping 15 assists in all competitions and even popped with five goals. The Whites faithful would hope that he can once again come up with such numbers to help his current side get into the Premier League.
In his absence, Bielsa used Stuart Dallas, Gaetano Berardi, Ezgjan Alioski and Tom Pearce in the left back role in various games but one has to say that none of them was able to replicate what Douglas provided down the wide regions.
The West Yorkshire outfit have dropped quite a few points in the past month but none of their opponents has really been able to pounce on this problem area, and Bielsa’s men are still just two points behind table toppers Sheffield United.
The next two games can give a clear picture of whether the Whites are really going through just a minor slump in form or are their wheels coming off like last season. The squad has been rummaged by injuries off late, but the timely return of this summer signing should be a major boost for the club in the upcoming fixtures.