By Callum O'Connell

15th Nov, 2023 | 8:10pm

Niall Huggins opens up on Leeds United exit after Marcelo Bielsa conversation

Sunderland right-back Niall Huggins has opened up on his Leeds United exit, claiming he was left frustrated after Marcelo Bielsa gave him mixed signals.

Huggins claims the legendary boss was a fan of his, but then received a phone call telling him he would not be part of the plans at Elland Road, without giving an answer as to why.

The defender left Leeds in 2021 and has since suffered from a long-term back injury, but has returned to the starting lineup at the Stadium of Light and is thriving in the Championship.

Speaking to Welsh outlet Y Clwb Pel-Droed while on international duty [15 November], Huggins revealed: “I thought I was doing really well. I made my debut in the December, which was the best day of my life – playing for my boyhood club.

“I did well, and I was on the bench quite a lot until the end of the season. But you never know in football.

“The manager at the time [Bielsa] liked me, but then I had a call telling me I probably wasn’t going to be involved the next season and I never really got an exact answer why. It was a bit frustrating.”

Leeds could do with him now

Two years on from his Elland Road exit, Huggins is showing a vein of form in the Championship which may leave officials at Leeds regretting their decision to let him go. While none of the current staff would have been involved in his departure, they could certainly have benefited from his presence.

The defender has made 13 Championship appearances for Sunderland so far this season, and Leeds’ lack of depth at right-back means his newfound reliability would be a boost to their squad.

Djed Spence and Luke Ayling are the two natural options for the position in Daniel Farke’s squad, but the former is yet to start a game after repeated injury issues, while the latter has dropped to the bench in recent weeks with the likes of Archie Gray and Jamie Shackleton asked to fill in.

Huggins averages 1.2 successful dribbles per game, 3.8 duels won, 1.4 tackles, 3.8 recoveries and 1.5 clearances [Sofascore], showing his reliable presence at the back has proved a vital part of Sunderland’s side as they aim to compete with Leeds for a playoff spot.

In other Leeds United news, a star player could push for a permanent move after new Leeds comments.