By George Overhill

6th Dec, 2022 | 9:00pm

Leeds United could now neglect left-back in January amid Stuart Dallas injury update

Leeds United have needed a new left back for months now and hope has been growing that they will finally get one from Victor Orta in the January transfer window.

But the latest update on Stuart Dallas’ return from a leg fracture will inject familiar seeds of doubt into the equation.

Injury analyst Ben Dinnery, via GIVEMESPORT on Monday (5 December), has pegged the Northern Irishman for a return, possibly to the under-21s in the first instant, possibly as early as later this month if not early in the new year, which it won’t have gone unnoticed is in perfect timing to coincide with the opening of the winter window.

The sensible option for a hierarchy who knows from experience that a lack of activity in January can put the club at risk of relegation to the Championship, would be to sign help anyway at a position that has been left badly lacking.

But the sensible option in the summer would have been to do that and it didn’t come to pass, and there wasn’t even the same noise around it as the failed, late attempts to plug the other major gap up front.

The decision was apparently made ahead of the season to entrust Junior Firpo with the job full-time, despite last season’s arrival from Barcelona struggling in his first campaign.

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Clearly, that hasn’t worked out, as multiple injuries meant he has largely been unavailable, and when he has featured he has again been a weakness, meaning Pascal Struijk is now the full-time starter.

In Firpo’s defence, nothing in his time at Elland Road has been especially conducive to establishing any rhythm, but either way it is currently clear that left-back needs work.

Heading towards the January window the Whites have been linked to the likes of Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro, and Valencia teenager Jesus Vazquez.

But with Dallas now not far off availability, Orta and company may be tempted to let the man who has filled that role 24 times since the return to the Premier League do so again [Transfermarkt].

Their willingness to let the position go unattended in the previous window surely must have had Dallas’ eventual return factored in, otherwise the oversight is baffling.

Cody Drameh should arguably have been tried at the position, but with Struijk performing as well as could really be expected as a makeshift option there hasn’t been an opening, and the highly-rated youngster now appears to be on the way out of Elland Road anyway.

An established, starting-calibre left-back is probably more important now than a forward, given Rodrigo’s scoring form and the emergence of Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville in attack.

But if Dallas returns to fitness at the key moment there is now a get-out clause for if an easy option isn’t immediately available in the market.

Supporters will have to hope that the decision-makers have seen the error they made in neglecting the position previously, but the looming Dallas-shaped elephant in the room might put them on edge that another window passes without a suitable signing, even if the 31-year-old has done a decent job before.

In other Leeds United news, two struggling players are reportedly in talks with the club over new deals.