Stuart Dallas in the running as Leeds United players keep eye on promotion

STUART DALLAS is the sort of unfaltering, consistent and low-maintenance professional who would have fitted right into the Leeds United dressing room during the club’s special times under Howard Wilkinson.

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas.

Rest assured that the famous quote credited to the former Whites manager when he got his players together soon after taking over at Elland Road in the late Eighties and demanded: ‘Do you want to win?’ would have instantly resonated with the Northern Irishman.

He would have only had to be told it once to get the message.

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Wilkinson’s words alluded to the sacrifices and probable combination of blood, sweat and tears that would be required to take Leeds back to where they ultimately belong – at the top table of English football.

Marcelo Bielsa, by contrast, may not go in much for Churchillian speeches or thought-provoking oratory, but as with Wilkinson, his players are in no doubt as to what he expects.

Even in football’s lockdown, that means total dedication, endeavour and professionalism and he has willing disciples in that pursuit such as Dallas, whose determination to help Leeds rubber-stamp promotion when the game returns is worn as a badge of honour.

The hard yards in training are now being undertaken at the family home and not at Thorp Arch – in readiness for climbing a few more hills when the Championship action gets under way again.

The father-of-three, who celebrates his 29th birthday on Sunday, said: “I am all right. We have been running to date and haven’t really kicked a ball and the programmes we have had are keeping us in good shape and then it is up to ourselves to be professional. We know what we are and have ahead of us and know what we want to achieve.

“Individually, we have got to be in the best possible shape as we can be.

“It comes down to how much we really want it. Do we want to gain what we set out to do? If we do, we have got to take responsibility ourselves.

“It is what it is, we have to adapt and embrace this challenge that is ahead of us and keep our heads down and keep working hard.”

Generous in his interaction with fans, whether it be in on social media or exchanging pleasantries with Leeds supporting neighbours – from a safe distance – Dallas’s giving nature and adaptability on the pitch ensures that his stock with his team-mates is sky-high.

The garlands may regularly be bestowed upon others, but Dallas’s importance as a ‘players’ player’ is not lost upon his peers, with Patrick Bamford speaking for many when he recently spoke about him as a player-of-the-season contender.

Keeping in character, Dallas remains slightly self-effacing on the subject of praise.

The one-time Brentford player, who has excelled both at full-back and in midfield this season, commented: “Obviously, it is massive to be thought of like that from your fellow professionals. It is great. But there’s a number of players who could win that.

“Everybody throughout the season has been unbelievable and I couldn’t single anybody out. Everybody has played their part.

“We are not there yet and still have a long way to go, but we are on course.

“They can give it (player of the season award) to the kitman if they want –- as long as we get promoted, it doesn’t matter.”

If that final quote does not perfectly sum up Dallas, then nothing will.