Leeds Live journalist Joe Donnohue believes Luke Ayling has been sorely missed by the team in recent weeks.
Ayling started every top-flight game last term, establishing himself as a player that Marcelo Bielsa could completely rely on. He has not been able to feature as regularly this season, though.
What's the latest news on Ayling?
The 30-year-old started each of Leeds' first five Premier League games in 2021/22, and he scored a long-range stunner on the opening day against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
However, he was forced off late on during a 1-1 draw with Newcastle last month with a knee injury. The problem required surgery, and he has since missed the side's last four league matches.
While he has been on the sidelines, Leeds have won just once, and been beaten twice, leaving them just one place above the bottom three.
What has Donnohue said about Ayling?
Ayling has shown his versatility over the last 12 months, operating as a right-back and as a central defender. In both roles, he has been happy to bring the ball out from the back, often starting off moves for Leeds, and Donnohue feels the Yorkshire club have missed that part of his game since he picked up his injury blow.
Speaking about Ayling to GIVEMESPORT, he said: “I think we’ve seen in his absence that not having him as the player to carry the ball up the field as prominently as he does - he’s very prolific in that sense – not having that has definitely hindered the team.”
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When will Ayling return from injury?
Bielsa confirmed ahead of last weekend's clash with Wolves that Ayling would miss the next two matches, confirming that he will not be available for tonight's Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal.
The fact that he seems to be taking things a week at a time with Ayling suggests that the defender is not too far away from getting back into the fold, and Leeds fans will hope that is the case.
The former Bristol City man was an important part of Leeds' success last season, and the club badly need him back as quickly as possible.
It has been an underwhelming start to the campaign for Leeds, who have just one win from their first nine fixtures, but Ayling's return could spark them into life and help them move away from the relegation zone in the final weeks of 2021.
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