By George Overhill

6th Sep, 2022 | 6:40am

Leeds United exit for Luke Ayling may be premature amid Rasmus Kristensen struggles - Phil Hay

There may be life in Luke Ayling’s Leeds United career yet after his cameo at Brentford and a big decision looms between him and Rasmus Kristensen, says Phil Hay.

The Dane was signed from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer with Ayling recovering from injury and the assumption was that it was now his position for the foreseeable future, but the 25-year-old hasn’t adapted to the Premier League as quickly as hoped yet.

He missed the 5-2 thrashing at Brentford on Saturday (3 September) and youngster Cody Drameh struggled amid general defensive catastrophe from the Whites, until 31-year-old Ayling replaced him in the second half and provided an assist for Marc Roca’s first United goal, giving Hay cause to reconsider the presumed summer exit at the end of the season.

On The Phil Hay Show on Monday (5 September, 11 mins 50 secs) he said: “I thought [Ayling] made a big difference when he came on. I thought his attacking play was good, the assist obviously for Roca’s goal, but there’d been a bit of that before hand.

“I think it realigns the thinking that a lot of us have in assuming that this is the tail-end for Ayling now, he’s out of contract in the summer, and he seems like he’s been usurped by Kristensen in that position.

“There might just be life in him left, and I think that’s going to be quite a big decision as time goes on, depending on how Kristensen’s form settles.”

Fight back

It looked like the writing was on the wall during the summer as Kristensen quickly showed that he was the kind of character to become a fan-favourite at Elland Road.

He may well still do that, as there are far more illustrious imports to the English top flight that have found the early going difficult before becoming stars.

Drameh is also sure to improve from his showing in west London at the weekend, after a strong loan spell with Cardiff last season, so the plan is likely to be that 20-year-old competes with the summer signing long-term.

Ayling may not have transformed the game at Brentford, after all the Whites still ended up losing 5-2, but he did offer a reminder that the picture at right-back isn’t set in stone just yet.

His form suffered during the relegation battle last year, especially tasked with leading the team in the absence of senior colleagues Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.

All three have obviously been missing from the majority of the line-ups so far in the campaign as well – one will be missing from all of them as a general rule – and Ayling hasn’t made over 200 appearances in a Whites shirt by mistake, so if he can find his way back into the team he might be able to convince the coaching staff he has a future still.

In other Leeds United news, the club have been accused of forcing a player who wanted to stay out of Elland Road in the past week.