Leeds United have been dealt a small blow to their attempts to return to their long-awaited destination of the Premier League. Their blow comes in the form of right-back Luke Ayling missing the remainder of the season with ankle surgery.
Ayling underwent surgery on Tuesday after limping off the pitch during Leeds' goalless draw with Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day, which at first thought weren't too serious, according to Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen.
Quoted from the Yorkshire Evening Post, a statement issued by Leeds said: “Luke Ayling faces the rest of the season on the sidelines following surgery on an ankle injury sustained in our New Year’s Day game against Nottingham Forest.
“The 26-year-old right back, who signed a new long-term deal with the Whites in the summer, has been an important part of Thomas Christiansen’s first eleven this season.”
However, with further examinations, it showed that the right-back had sustained damages to a cartilage in his ankle. The surgery will put the 26-year-old sidelined for the remainder of the season and is not expected to return until the summer's pre-season.
Leeds' loss of Ayling is further impacted by the loss of fellow player Samuel Saiz's six-match ban. Saiz was recently handed the lengthy ban after spitting at Newport County midfielder Robbie Willmott in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round defeat.
Ayling arrived at Elland Road after signing from Bristol City in the summer of 2016. His Leeds side currently sit in 6th position occupying the last play-off place, with only six points seperate them from the automatic promotion slot.