Conor Shaughnessy already improving; Leeds United could have surprise centre-back solution on their hands

A general view of Elland Road Stadium prior to kick off in the Sky Bet Championship League match between Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers, at Elland Road Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Leeds,...

The Leeds United defender has impressed since breaking through this summer.

Leeds United's lack of centre-backs was always likely to see a breakthrough for one of the Whites' young prospects this summer, but few would have suspected it would be Conor Shaughnessy, who is more commonly used as a midfielder.

Not anymore, with the 21-year-old playing at the back during pre-season and starting in that position for Leeds in their League Cup clash with Port Vale earlier this week.

A general view of Elland Road Stadium prior to kick off in the Sky Bet Championship League match between Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers, at Elland Road Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Leeds,...

That followed a 26-minute appearance off the bench against Bolton Wanderers last Sunday, and while Shaughnessy was shaky in the 3-2 victory, he looked far more composed just a few days later, albeit against lower league opposition.

The 21-year-old was one of two defensive substitutes used against the Trotters, with injuries striking on the earliest possible occasion, and Leeds' makeshift back line ultimately held out despite looking fragile and shipping two goals at the Macron Stadium.

Against Port Vale the Leeds youngster looked better from the outset, and he is clearly learning fast. He was far more confident on the ball and did his defensive duties without fuss or fanfare.

He is still very much a backup's backup, yet he has burst on to the scene in impressive fashion and he looks to have made the permanent step up to first-team duties.

It was widely expected that Paudie O'Connor or Paul McKay would be the next defender to be introduced to the Elland Road faithful. However Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen threw something of a curve ball opting instead for Shaughnessy.

Inexperience means he is prone to mistakes - with the penalty he conceded against Bolton a prime example - but he put that behind him to impress against Port Vale and should get plenty more chances in the months ahead.

APOEL's Spanish head coach Thomas Christiansen looks on prior to the Europa League group B football match beetween Young Boys and APOEL at the Stade de Suisse in Bern on October 20, 2016.

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