By Wayne Veysey

29th Dec, 2016 | 5:30pm

Early Leeds team news: Senior ace misses Aston Villa clash, 25-year-old starts - reliable journalist

By Alex Stevens

Kyle Bartley misses Leeds’ clash against Aston Villa in the Championship on Thursday night, according to a reliable journalist.

The centre-back has been a mainstay of the Garry Monk team that has punched above their weight to challenge for promotion to the top flight.

Bartley, 25, has started all 23 of Leeds’ league matches to date this season but his lengthy sequence is now set to end at Villa Park.

Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay reported on his personal Twitter account that there is “no Bartley” in the Leeds squad that has arrived in Birmingham.

Hay told his Twitter followers to “expect Liam Cooper” to start in place of his fellow defender.

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Cooper, 25, has slipped down the pecking order at Elland Road this season due to the formidable new partnership of on-loan pair Bartley and Pontus Jansson.

But the centre-back is now in line for what will be only his fifth league start of the season.

Hay did not explain why Bartley is absent but he required treatment for a head injury during and after Monday’s 4-1 victory at Preston following an incident which resulted in the dismissal of Preston striker Jermaine Beckford.

Leeds manager Garry Monk said Bartley had been “groggy” after the collision with Ayling but dismissed fears on Wednesday of Bartley missing the club’s televised trip to Villa Park.

“Kyle will be fine for the Villa game,” Monk said. “He had a little clash of heads with Luke Ayling but nothing serious. He was feeling a little groggy, he had a bit of treatment at the end of the game but it was nothing more than that.”

However, speculation mounted on social media on Thursday afternoon among Leeds supporters that Bartley had not travelled with Monk’s squad to Birmingham for the eagerly anticipated clash of the two giants.

Leeds head to Villa Park on the back of three straight wins and with an improving injury list after Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez returned from hamstring strains in the victory over Preston.

In other Leeds transfer news, a 25-year-old has signed for the club after agreeing terms.