Leeds United have perfect cover for Djed Spence as Luke Ayling steps up once again
Nothing is ever simple with Leeds United and there is no greater example of that than this summer when the Whites’ transfer window had everything.
Alongside the sagas of Wilfried Gnonto and Luis Sinisterra, there was the failed pursuit of Max Aarons as Daniel Farke looked to strengthen at right back. After that move, it seemed as though the Whites finally found their man in Djed Spence.
Having impressed in a cameo from the bench against Sheffield Wednesday before the international break, most thought he was a certain starter against Millwall on Sunday (17 September), until it was revealed by Farke that he would be out for several weeks with a lateral ligament injury [Beren Cross, 17 September].
Luckily, as has so often been the case in recent seasons, Luke Ayling has stood up when it counts for the Whites and shown that he is more than capable of putting in a performance to ensure no one at Elland Road is panicking about their full-back options.
The 32-year-old played the full 90 minutes at the Den on Sunday and was at his steady best to allow Leeds’ attacking talent to flourish. Defensively, Ayling flourished, winning three tackles, making five recoveries and only being dribbled past once [Fotmob].
Against a physical Millwall side, he refused to be bullied as well, winning 100 per cent of his six aerial duels and four ground duels without committing a single foul. Going forward Ayling wasn’t quite as prolific but still managed six passes into the final third and created one chance for the Whites.
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He did misplace the only cross he attempted during the game, but with the wealth of attacking talent ahead of him in attack, there is very little need for Ayling to be the creator-in-chief in this new-look Leeds United side.
While most would prefer it to be Spence lining up on the right of defence, Ayling is much more than just an able deputy, especially in tricky games like a visit to The Den. Teams need grit and experience to get past those sorts of tests and few have more experience in this Leeds team than Ayling.
With Spence sidelined for several weeks and the fixtures coming thick and fast, the 32-year-old is going to have to continue to step up and show why Farke and United do not need to panic without their Tottenham loanee.
In other Leeds United, a Manchester United ace was wowed by one United player’s performance on Sunday