Marcelo Bielsa has been gifted a timely Leeds United injury boost and according to Kevin Phillips, he will be “delighted”…
What’s the latest?
Over the weekend, encouraging footage emerged from their Thorp Arch training base of vice-captain Luke Ayling in the gym, whilst as per The Athletic’s Phil Hay, the 30-year-old was hoping to be back involved on Friday.
The long-serving and influential right-back has been out of action ever since the Whites’ 1-1 draw with Newcastle United in mid-September, in which he sustained a pretty serious knee injury.
He has since missed nine games in all competitions as Leeds’ struggles in the Premier League continue, with Bielsa’s men just one place above the relegation zone.
“It is always a boost to have one of your experienced players back,” the ex-Sunderland marksman told Football Insider.
“Ayling is such an important player for them because he can play anywhere across the backline. It will great to have him back in and around the training ground. Leeds need to keep clean sheets and hopefully when he comes back in he can help.
“He brings with him that experience and that organisation. He is an important voice on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“Bielsa will be delighted to have him back.”
Indeed, it’s no surprise to see the Yorkshire giants struggling as they have been missing some key players, one of which being Ayling, who is their only recognised right-back.
The likes of Stuart Dallas and Jamie Shackleton have had to deputies in his absence, to mixed success.
Also via WhoScored, only one player featured in more minutes (Dallas, 3,411) than Ayling (3,400), only going to prove his worth and importance to Bielsa, whilst he led the squad for tackles per game (2.8) and was third behind Raphinha and Jack Harrison for dribbles per game (1.1), too.
That suggests he’s just as crucial to their attacking play as at the back because he’s getting up the pitch to deliver crosses and to help support the aforementioned wing duo.
Dubbed “Mr. Consistent and Mr. Ever-present” by former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell, Leeds will be buzzing to have Ayling back around. He may not be involved in a matchday in the near future but his presence will bolster the mood alone.
Bielsa will definitely be delighted to see him back around Thorp Arch.
AND in other news, Phil Hay drops worrying Leeds United January transfer claim…