Luke Ayling’s injury layoff is “absolutely gutting” for Leeds United, according to former West Ham and Scotland striker Frank McAvennie.
The Lowdown: Ayling sidelined with injury
Ayling has been a fantastic servant for the Whites, making 198 appearances to date and proving to be a key player throughout Marcelo Bielsa’s reign.
Unfortunately, the 30-year-old is currently out with a knee injury and hasn’t featured for Leeds since the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United last month.
The Latest: Pundit bemoans absence
Injury expert Ben Dinnery has claimed that Ayling may not return until after next month’s international break, which would be an undoubted blow for Leeds.
Speaking to Football Insider after that update emerged, McAvennie rued the news, given his importance to the team:
“Losing a stalwart like that is gutting, absolutely gutting. It upsets the rhythm of the team. He was never not there last season and we saw how good they were.
“Obviously, he scored a huge goal on the first day, we know how good he can be. Leeds have a few issues at the back and this is one they are going to have to fix. His absence is a massive blow.
“The mental side of it is a big one. Those players in the middle, like Phillips, won’t be as confident without Ayling behind them.
“They have a few big games to play, they need to get away from that bottom three as well. You need your best players for that so Ayling being ruled out, as I say, I’m gutted for him.”
The Verdict: Time for Shackleton to shine
There is no denying that Ayling is a big miss for the Whites, not only possessing great character on the pitch but also providing constant energy and quality down the right flank.
If he is going to be absent for an extended period of time, Jamie Shackleton may be tasked with filling the void, instead of Stuart Dallas playing an auxiliary role.
The 22-year-old has managed two league starts already this season and did well in the 1-0 win over Watford last time around and it will be interesting to see how he fares at Southampton on Saturday, assuming he starts.
In other news, Phil Hay has provided a key update on one Leeds player. Find out who it is here.
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