By George Overhill

18th Sep, 2023 | 8:10pm

Leeds United 'player of the season' Jamie Shackleton dropped as Sam Byram wows vs Millwall - Adam Pope

Jamie Shackleton has been the “player of the season so far” at Leeds United and was very unfortunate to lose his place to Sam Byram, but the latter was “so good” at Millwall, according to Adam Pope.

The BBC journalist was speaking on the Don’t Go To Bed Just Yet podcast on Monday (18 September), a day after the 3-0 away win, and said he “really felt for” utility man Shackleton to be dropped for the fit-again Byram.

But after an excellent result he hailed the entire back-four of Byram, Joe Rodon, Pascal Struijk and Luke Ayling, in making it hard to argue with Daniel Farke’s selection in defence.

Pope said (5m 25s) “I do think that whole performance was built on the defence. Rodon was outstanding, Struijk did really well.

“Byram was really good. I really feel for Jamie Shackleton not to have started the game because he’s been my player of the season so far, but Byram was so good, like so good in every aspect, positionally, defensively, what he does going forward, when he inverts, so that defence is settling down.

“I think we’re all expecting Djed Spence to start at some point, obviously he’s injured now for a little while [but] Luke Ayling, one of his best games in a long time. I thought he was really, really good.”

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Shackleton would undoubtedly have been disappointed to miss out back at the club where he spent last season on loan, and righty so after a strong start to the campaign in various positions.

But Byram would equally have been hard to leave out after his showings at left-back since the summer return on a free transfer.

After two years of endless issues in defence it is finally encouraging that there appears to be competition for places at the back resulting from strong performance rather than a need to drop struggling players.

Rodon’s loan arrival from Tottenham has proven very beneficial already, and while Ayling is likely to drop out for fellow Spurs loanee Spence when he returns from injury he did play well at Millwall.

The club ultimately overlooking a specialist left-back in the transfer window looks like it could be an oversight given Byram and Junior Firpo have such extensive injury records, and may still turn out that way.

But when the ex-Norwich man is fit he has definitely looked a viable answer at a problem position, and Shackleton has been very good as emergency cover.

Neither would have been the names which fans expected to address the left-back conundrum a couple of months ago but for now they are covering it pretty well.

In other Leeds United news, a Whites ace was shocked when he received an accolade live on Sky Sports.