Well, this is a disaster.
Leeds United defender Luke Ayling is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on the ankle injury he picked up against Nottingham Forest in the last match at Elland Road. Ayling had appeared in every single match for Leeds up until that point, and had played in every minute of league play this season. Ayling had started the League Cup matches as well, but was subbed off against Port Vale to limit his minutes.
This is absolutely terrible news for Leeds fans. Leeds has relied heavily on Ayling, so much so that many fans were starting to call for him to get a break in at least the FA Cup match against Newport County.
Ayling hadn’t always performed up to his high standard this past season, especially late in matches. His errors were at least partially responsible for a number of goals against this season, with Ayling getting caught up the pitch against Reading FC and Sheffield United the most prominent examples of errors which lead to winning goals by the opposition at home.
However, Ayling has been a key player for Leeds, and even though he’s been caught up the pitch a few times, his steady defensive presence for Leeds will be missed. Last season he was arguably the best right back in the division, and even with a couple dodgy plays, he was still one of the better performers for Leeds this season.
Leeds have the option to recall right-back Lewie Coyle from his loan at Fleetwood this month. No move to do so yet. Can't recall him once the transfer window closes. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 10, 2018
And while it seems that a Leeds deal for Belgian left back Laurens De Bock is imminent, allowing Gaetano Berardi to shift back over to his preferred right-back spot, Ayling’s absence still leaves Leeds short at the fullback position. Leeds can still recall Lewie Coyle from Fleetwood Town, but that hasn’t been done yet. If anything, another fullback should be purchased as cover for Leeds during January, or Coyle should be recalled.
We’ll miss you, Luke. MOT