After suffering a foot injury in pre-season Aidy White is finally back in training but, with his contract about to expire, what do Leeds do now?
White is a veritable senior in the Leeds United ranks, having made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2008 and having clocked up over 100 first team appearances since then (77 starts and 33 sub appearances in seven years).
Not many in the Leeds squad can claim such seniority, yet Leeds fans find themselves with the quandary of not knowing his favoured position, nor, perhaps more pertinently, whether he is good enough in any of those positions anyway.
An early spell in the first team came under manager Gary McAllister in 2008/09, when the Otley-born White made five appearances at left-back, but was spared the spotlight when results started to go wrong. It was not until a few weeks into the 2011/12 season when Simon Grayson and then Neil Warnock utilised his pace and he ended the campaign with 38 appearances to his name.
This lead to concern from fans in pre-season as the club failed to offer White a suitable contract and it looked like he may leave his boyhood club. Among pressure from fans to protect and reward their home-grown stars, a deal was eventually tabled and on the eve of the 2012/13 season White's new contract offered the fans a tangible fillip. Since then, however, White has never performed consistently and has never cemented a regular place in the first team.
It is a well known fact that Leeds have lacked genuine pace and width over the last three seasons and despite White possessing both, he has been overlooked by a string of Leeds managers, although injury has played an unfortunate part in that.
White has also been hampered by the lack of a natural position. He has agility and speed in abundance but lacks the body strength and defensive ability to settle at left-back, and doesn't possess the composure, vision or general football brain to flourish as an attacking winger. Neil Warnock even utilised him as a right-winger for a short period, but it is fair to say that, while White has natural assets that should make him invaluable to a squad, he has failed to make best use of them.
Now the 23-year-old is coming to the end of another contract and it remains to be seen whether the club will offer him a new one. Certainly with his fitness open to question and his contribution to a Championship-quality squad also up for debate, it is possible Neil Redfearn - if indeed it is his decision to make - may see little future for White at Elland Road.
Although Redfearn has been loyal to the youngsters that he has brought through the academy at Leeds - promoting Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor and Kalvin Phillips into the first team this season - it is true that Aidy White doesn't quite fit into that bracket. When Redfearn joined the club in 2009, White was already training with the first team full-time and hence Redfearn will not have the same emotional attachment to him.
White has enjoyed loan spells in League One with Oldham Athletic and Sheffield United in recent seasons, and it may be that the third tier is his natural home and, with time on his side, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that White can become the player he has always promised to be, but never quite delivered. It is hard to see Leeds trading on sentimentality and unfulfilled potential, however.
For now, sadly, Leeds can't afford to carry passengers and White's days at Elland Road could well be over.
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