There was a time this season when Stephen Warnock wasn’t even in the Leeds team. Who could imagine such a scenario now?
The left-back was dropped by then boss Darko Milanic, with rumours flying that the former Liverpool and Aston Villa man had complained that owner Massimo Cellino was interfering with team selection.
They were only rumours, of course, but a section of the Leeds United faithful certainly wanted Warnock out of the side.
Since, however, the 32-year-old has made himself undroppable – and statistics show just how important he has become at Elland Road.
|Interceptions Won||Tackles Won||Aerial Duels Won||Effective Clearances||Appearances||Minutes Played|
Defensively, Warnock's form is rock solid. As Opta data proves, the full-back has won more interceptions than any other Leeds player and the second-most tackles.
Warnock has also made the third-highest amount of clearances and won the second-highest total of aerial duels.
But it isn’t just at the back that the Leeds man shines. Ridiculously, the defender is in the top two for almost every statistic going forward, too…
|Chances Created||Accurate Crosses||Accurate Passes||Final-Third Passes||Appearances||Minutes Played|
Attack-wise, Warnock has created more chances than anyone bar Alex Mowatt and completed more passes than anyone except Tomasso Bianchi. The 32-year-old has also landed the second-most crosses of any United squad member and completed the second-highest amount of final-third passes.
Not bad going for a left-back – and it is a far cry from Warnock’s exclusion from the Yorkshire side’s first team. It seems the Leeds defender is hitting his peak in the latter stages of his career, with Warnock's experience also being key when it comes to helping the younger players at Elland Road.
So, while Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara provide Neil Redfearn’s side with a much-needed goal threat – and Adryan, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt inject the creativity – if there's one player Leeds simply can’t afford to drop right now, it’s Warnock.