Whilst some may point out that Leeds United have been ‘lucky’ surviving with a thinned-out squad beset by injuries, the results definitely speak for themselves.
The Whites sit atop the Sky Bet Championship, a placing that usually sees that side promoted at the end of the campaign. They sit on the business end of a five-game win streak, that comes from solid play – not luck.
Yes, injuries have hit, and hit hard. Yet, Leeds United’s pared down squad has coped, coped admirably. It is the Marcelo Bielsa insistence that each player be able to cover one other position that has seen to this.
However, a reprieve could be at hand as the Whites look to welcome back star defender Luke Ayling to the starting fold after recovery from injury.
Much better news on Luke Ayling – will be in the squad this weekend and will "probably be a starter" at Aston Villa. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 21, 2018
Ayling’s return, after missing six weeks of action with a medial ligament injury, sees him drafted into the line-up ahead of schedule. That timeliness is thanks to the Leeds United medical squad who are seemingly performing miracles at getting players patched up and back at it.
His return to the side will give the Whites that little bit of class at the right side of defence, something that will be more than welcome against a good Villa side. In his absence, Ayling’s position has been admirably filled by youngster Jamie Shackleton – evidence of Leeds’ strength in depth.
Ayling’s start, should it happen as planned, against Villa will be his 90th game for Leeds United. A win for the West Yorkshire side will guarantee them top spot for Christmas, and could see them pull even further clear of those in their wake.