Leeds United are set to face Swansea City at Elland Road on Wednesday night in a fixture which will be emotionally charged just under two weeks after the transfer window came to an acrimonious ending.
But Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping his side are focused solely on the performance rather than the failed bid for Daniel James.
The Argentine has been talking to the media ahead of the huge midweek encounter and has delivered a vote of confidence to Luke Ayling, a player whose performances perhaps haven’t been up to scratch in recent times.
A big vote of confidence from Bielsa for Luke Ayling. Says he thinks he's dropped off slightly in an attacking sense but is still very happy with his performances and feels he's more than worth his place in the team. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 12, 2019
The extent of Ayling’s perceived demise has encouraged plenty of the Whites faithful to call for the inclusion of Jamie Shackleton at full-back, despite the fact he is a central midfielder by trade.
The reaction to Phil Hay’s tweet has been mixed to say the least. Some supporters have jumped to Ayling’s defence and reiterated the words of their manager, but there were plenty of others who offered a more critical point of view and called for Shackleton to replace the 27-year-old on Wednesday.
At this tentative stage in the season it seems unlikely that Bielsa would consider replacing the experienced full-back with a teenage prodigy, but that has not prevented the supporters from urging him to make that huge call.
Here’s what the Leeds fans have had to say about Ayling in response to Bielsa’s comments:
— BielsaCarajo (@carajo_bielsa) February 12, 2019
I honestly think that Shackleton should start, he was a big improvement over Ayling when he came on on Saturday…
— Bevan Mortimer (@BevanMortimer) February 12, 2019
The ultimate ‘take a bullet’ man
— Scott (@esspeelufc) February 12, 2019
Ok now ask what Shackleton has to do to get a start
— 🙂 (@Max_LUFC) February 12, 2019
Think the team would really benefit from Shackleton’s pace and delivery on the overlap. Ayling a great servant of the club but needs a rest.
— Josh Hobbs (@JoshAHobbs) February 12, 2019
Good man management. Sometimes players need an arm round them. Ayling has looked off the boil but that’s form not class. He’ll be back to his best very soon.
— Hashtag lufc (@Hashtaglufc) February 12, 2019
He’s class! Can’t understand people slating him!
— jacks1919 (@jackss1919) February 12, 2019
Best full backs in the league prior to Christmas in him and Douglas. Every player has a dip in form, Douglas and Ayling still have a huge part to play for me.
— Oliver Medd (@OliverMedd7) February 12, 2019