By Ronan Murphy
Many players have been suggested as the answer to Ireland's left back problem, but few have the potential of Aidan 'Aidy' White. The Leeds United 20-year-old can comfortably play at left full or at left midfield and could be the long-term successor to Kevin Kilbane for Ireland in that regard.
Having made his Leeds United as a 16-year-old back in August 2008, White flirted with the first team for a few years, playing nine games in his first season, 15 the second, and just three in the third before being loaned out to Oldham Athletic.
The stint with the Latics saw White's confidence grow, as he scored four goals in 24 games for the League One side. He returned to Elland Road in better physical condition, and quickly broke into the first team for the 2011-12 season. Despite an early red card, White became a central performer in the team under both Simon Grayson and Neil Warnock, playing left back, left wing and even right wing for the Whites. His performances in the Championship even caught the eye of a number of foreign admirers, with Celtic, Lille, and Werder Bremen linked with the youngster.
White's progress to Noel King's Ireland under-21 side hasn't been as straightforward as his club ascension. Born in Leeds and playing for his local club, after being named as one of 20 Future England Stars by the Guardian in 2008, White was called into the England U19 squad the following year, but played just 17 minutes for the Three Lions in a friendly against Czech Republic.
|AIDAN WHITE | Leeds United, Defender, 20
However, in 2011, White declared for the country of his ancestors, and started against Austria in the U21 Euro 2013 qualifier after receiving his first call-up. Since then, he has gone on to play six times for Ireland U21s, and even scored his first international goal against Liechtenstein.
King has been especially pleased with White's performances in a green jersey, claiming that he sees him as a future senior international for Ireland. “It’s not for me to say whether he will or should play for the senior side, that would be down to the national coach to decide, but he’s definitely got the potential to get there in the future," King told the Yorkshire Evening Post in an interview last year.
“He’s been a revelation in the short time he’s played for us and he’s got all the requirements in terms of ability and talent. So why can’t he do it? You’ve seen plenty of players over the years who’ve excelled for the U21s and never quite made the next step so nothing’s certain but Aidan’s a player with the desire to move mountains. I see huge potential in him.”
He's also popular with his international teammates, and his workrate has impress the other members of the squad, with Wigan defender Rob Kiernan claiming he's 'probably the best trainer' in the Ireland U21 squad.White has already turned down two separate contract offers from Leeds United, and could be on the move this summer after his contract expired on July 1. With clubs at home and abroad said to be sniffing around the pacey left-sided player, Leeds boss Neil Warnock will have a hard time getting the 20-year-old to stay at Elland Road for another season.