BBC pundit Noel Whelan has called for Barry Douglas to end a ‘disappointing’ chapter of his Leeds United career, and turn things around at Elland Road like France midfielder Moussa Sissoko managed at Tottenham Hotspur.
Douglas has not started a Championship fixture under Marcelo Bielsa since helping the Whites beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 at the DW Stadium in August, and has been resigned to two brief substitute outings in the West Yorkshire outfit’s subsequent league fixtures (WhoScored).
The one-time Scotland international struggled to establish himself at Elland Road last season, as well, with the 30-year-old making 26 outings across all competitions during an injury-ravaged maiden campaign (TransferMarkt) following his £3m move from Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sky Sports).
Barring the injuries, Douglas’ career with Leeds is eerily similar to the early days of Sissoko’s in North London, as the Frenchman started just eight Premier League games (TransferMarkt) on the back of his £30m move to Tottenham from Newcastle United (BBC) in 2016.
The 56-cap midfielder struggled to make an imprint the following term, either, but thrived throughout the 2018/19 campaign to start 27 of 30 top-flight appearances and feature in each Champions League fixture between the fifth group stage clash and the final against Liverpool in Madrid.
Whelan has pointed to Sissoko’s resurgence as an example of inspiration for Douglas, as he feels it is not too late for the Scotsman to turn things around at his former side.
Speaking with Football Insider, Whelan said: “Barry Douglas is running out of time at Leeds, but it’s not too late. It’s been stop-start for him, and for somebody of his quality to be on the bench is disappointing.
“Douglas still has plenty to offer to Leeds and he can be their Sissoko. Look how he has been transformed at Tottenham. He was on the fringes for two seasons and then he turned things around with probably the best season of his career.
“He showed why Tottenham spent £30m on him, and now he’s got a new four-year contract that keeps him there until he’s 34. We know Douglas is a great full-back, we saw that at Wolves. It’s up to him to win back his place and make it impossible to leave him out.”
Douglas was hardly at the peak of his game during the opening weeks of the campaign when he started against Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Wigan, as it was only the clash with Forest that saw the defender record two successful tackles.
He also failed to score or create a goal with any of his key balls or shots attempted, most of which came in the Latics encounter that marked the end of his run in the starting line-up.
Ezgjan Alioski, on the other hand, came in to replace Douglas and has frequently been busy defending and attacking, and scored the all-important winning goal last time out against West Bromwich Albion, which would make it hard for Bielsa to suddenly change his first-choice left-back.
Leeds fans, should Bielsa stick or twist with his left-back option for Saturday’s trip to Millwall? Let us know in the comments below…
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