The Athletic’s Phil Hay has confirmed that Leeds United defender Luke Ayling will miss today’s clash against Norwich City and delivered a worrying update on his potential comeback.
The versatile 30-year-old has missed the last four games in the Premier League for Marcelo Bielsa’s side after being forced off late in the second half against Newcastle United a few weeks ago.
Hay has now revealed that Leeds manager Bielsa hasn’t indicated when Ayling could be back.
Writing on Twitter, the journalist said: “Shackleton has a chance of being involved but no Luke Ayling. Still not ready to return. Bielsa says there’s no precise return date set for Bamford, Ayling or Koch yet.”
Usually one of the first names on the team-sheet, there’s no questioning that Ayling has been one of the manager’s most trusted lieutenants over the past couple of seasons.
The £45k-a-week ace played the full 90 minutes in every single Premier League game last season bar one, and even that was when Bielsa took him off to try and find a goal in the last 20 minutes against ten-man Arsenal.
Described as a “great technician” by former Arsenal academy team-mate Cedric Evina, Ayling’s composure on the ball is something that Bielsa particularly admires, saying after Leeds’ 3-0 victory over Aston Villa last year that the right-back “transmitted serenity to the rest of the team”.
The Leeds manager even once said that the defender was someone “who can solve any problem”, and that’s exactly why Hay’s update is a body blow for Bielsa and the Whites this weekend.
While missing Bamford up top and Phillips in the middle of the park have both been big blows for Leeds, losing a reliable presence like the 30-year-old Ayling is sure to have left the manager particularly gutted.
Meanwhile, Leeds are eyeing this South American ace…