Derby win last season proves Leeds' Lewie Coyle may not need to displace Luke Ayling to earn regular football for Whites

Lewie Coyle of Leeds United FC during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Leeds United and Rotherham United at Elland Road on January 9, 2016 in Leeds, England.

Leeds United claimed a 1-0 win over Championship rivals Derby County in January in one of their most impressive performances of the season.

Lewie Coyle of Leeds United FC during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Leeds United and Rotherham United at Elland Road on January 9, 2016 in Leeds, England.

Lewie Coyle recently suggested to the Yorkshire Evening Post that he feels that he is at a stage of his career where he needs to be doing more than simply sitting on Leeds' bench.

Coyle is one of the brighter academy graduates coming through at Elland Road, and is currently proving his talent with an excellent loan spell with League One side Fleetwood Town. 

The loan move has delayed what promises to be a tough situation for Thomas Christiansen as, while Coyle arguably deserves more first-team chances, he is competing for a place in the side against a teammate who is arguably one of, if not the first name on the teamsheet in Luke Ayling.

Lewie Coyle of Fleetwood Town in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Fleetwood Town at Sixfields on August 12, 2017 in Northampton, England.

If Coyle is comfortable with the idea of being Ayling's understudy, then Christiansen will be delighted as, with Gaetano Berardi also available, Leeds will have an incredible amount of depth at right-back.

But a dilemma will surface if Coyle does make it clear that being understudy to such a stalwart is not enough for him. 

But perhaps a performance from last season suggests that Christiansen may be able to get both men into the team in future.

Thomas Christiansen manager of Leeds United looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Leeds United at City Ground on August 26, 2017 in Nottingham,...

When Garry Monk's side were faltering in the final weeks of last season, Leeds fans were talking about the side's January win over Derby as the performance that they desperately needed to recreate to get themselves back on track.

The Whites may have only won 1-0, but the performance itself was one of Leeds' best since they returned to the second tier, as they married a solid defensive display with some scintillating football going forward to leave Elland Road rocking.

And yet, they kept the clean sheet with a makeshift back four that had not played together in the Championship before that contest, with Coyle playing at right-back, Berardi on the left and Ayling moving into the middle alongside Kyle Bartley.

Ayling's long-term future is surely on the right, but if Coyle threatens to become one of Leeds' best defenders - he is arguably on the right path - Christiansen would surely be making a mistake using him sparingly, and thus, getting them both into the side should be something he considers trying to engineer.

Certainly, making it clear to Coyle that he will not always be competing with Ayling for a place in the team when he returns may be a smart idea to prevent one of the club's most promising youngsters becoming frustrated. And replicating the lineup from that performance against Derby may be the best way for Christiansen to ensure that he is as good as his word.

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