The Athletic’s Phil Hay has confirmed that Leeds United defender Luke Ayling will require surgery ahead of the Whites’ Premier League clash against Watford on Saturday afternoon.
The right-back had played the full 90 minutes in every single top-flight game this season for Marcelo Bielsa’s side before he was forced off in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw against Newcastle at St James’ Park a couple of weeks ago.
The 30-year-old then missed the subsequent clash at West Ham last time out, and Hay has now revealed that as well as missing today’s game against Watford, Ayling will require surgery to fix an issue in his knee.
Writing on Twitter, the journalist confirmed: “Ayling has a knee injury. That requires what Bielsa called “simple” surgery (a clean-out job, essentially).”
Ayling has been a virtual ever-present for Leeds and arguably their Mr Reliable, having played the full 90 minutes in every single Premier League game last season bar one – and even that was when Bielsa decided to take him off him to try and find a goal in the last 20 minutes against ten-man Arsenal.
The versatile defender also wore the captain’s armband on 12 occasions last year, and his leadership at the back is something the Whites could really do with given the tough, winless start they have endured to begin this Premier League campaign.
Described as a “great technician” by former Arsenal academy team-mate Cedric Evina, Ayling’s absence from the Leeds side cannot be underestimated, with Bielsa saying after Leeds’ 3-0 victory over Aston Villa last October that the right-back “transmitted serenity to the rest of the team”.
He will once again be missed today, but the reports that he now requires surgery are sure to have both Bielsa and the club’s fans very worried about the amount of time he could miss and how many games he could be ruled out for amid this tricky run.