Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan has bemoaned Luke Ayling’s injury layoff which will see him miss a chunk of the season.
The Lowdown: Ayling set for injury layoff
The Whites won their first Premier League game of the campaign on Saturday after beating Watford 1-0 at Elland Road, but they had to do it without the 30-year-old.
As noted by Marcelo Bielsa in recent days, the right-back requires knee surgery after being missing since the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United, meaning that he is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.
The Latest: Whelan reacts to news
Whelan has bemoaned that news and told Football Insider that Leeds will miss both Ayling’s quality and character on the pitch. He said:
“He’s a character in the changing room he’s a leader in there as well.
“Ayling brings some fun to the changing room, you can see what kind of personality he is.
“It’s the personality that he brings on the field that’s more important. That energy, bursting up and down the right-hand side.
“Defensively as well, covering round, he’s a massive part of the Leeds United defence.
“It’s going to be a sorry blow to miss him. The international break, that’s two weeks that will allow him to recover after the operation.”
The Verdict: Big all-round blow for Leeds
As Whelan says, it is the all-round package which makes Ayling such an influential figure and explains why he will be a big miss for Leeds in the coming weeks.
He may not necessarily be the most gifted player in Bielsa’s squad, but he is a leader and also possesses great consistency at right-back, making 198 appearances for the Whites to date. His defensive quality is evident in his match average of 2.2 tackles this season prior to his injury, the third-highest at Elland Road (WhoScored), while he led the way for that metric last term with 2.8 per game.
It also means that youngster Jamie Shackleton may have to continue at right-back for the time being – Stuart Dallas is an option there, too – which is far from ideal with neither of them being a natural in that position.
In other news, Phil Hay has been discussing a boost that Leeds have received. Read more here.
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