Can Barry Douglas expect to replace Leeds teammate Gjanni Alioski?

1st January 2019, City Ground, Nottingham, England; EFL Championship football, Nottingham Forest versus Leeds United;  Ezgjan Alioski of Leeds United volleys in to make it 1-2 in the 64th...

Gjanni Alioski replaced Barry Douglas for Leeds United's most recent Championship clash.

Leeds United's Jack Harrison celebrates scoring his side's second goal

In all of the controversy and discussions over 'Spygate', it has somewhat been forgotten that Leeds put in arguably their best performance of the season to beat Derby County 2-0 on Friday night.

After three defeats in a row and plenty of criticism coming the club's way - some, it should go without saying, has been ridiculously over the top - Leeds showed why they lead the Championship by brushing Frank Lampard's side aside with relative ease.

 

Every player in the Whites' squad played their part in the win, including Gjanni Alioski, who was picked at left-back as a replacement for the injured Barry Douglas.

Alioski has faced a lot of criticism this term. His early season form dipped dramatically in the latter months of 2018 before an upturn arguably began in the stunning 3-2 win at Aston Villa.

In the midst of his struggles, there was a moment when Alioski had seemingly turned a corner. It came when he was moved to left-back towards the end of the 1-1 home draw against Brentford.

Ezgjan Alioski of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between  Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on December 23, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

The Macedonia international has now put several excellent performances together, and the best of the lot came on Friday when he returned to the left side of defence to face the Rams.

It was a remarkable display given that was listed as a defender in the lineup. He should have had a penalty in the first minute and provided the assist for the second goal from the six-yard box. It must be mentioned that he also put more than a shift in defensively.

Douglas seems to still be a few games away from returning. But if Alioski's form continues, it is surely fair to wonder how exactly the £3 million signing gets back in the side for the time-being (fee reported by Sky Sports).

Barry Douglas of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United at The Hawthorns on November 10, 2018 in West Bromwich, England.

Douglas has not quite managed to find the form that he showed last season. He is still one of the best full-backs in the division, but Alioski was sensational in the role on Friday.

And if that is a sign of things to come from the 26-year-old while Douglas is sidelined, Marcelo Bielsa surely cannot justify bringing the Scotsman back in when he does return.

It would have seemed unthinkable in the summer, or in the weeks before the Aston Villa game when Alioski's revival really began, but he may be on the cusp of proving himself to be the best-performing left-back in the squad right now. 

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