By Alex McLeish

24th Sep, 2021 | 8:48am

Ex-manager: Ayling is irreplaceable at Leeds after 'nightmare' update

Alex McLeish has admitted Luke Ayling’s injury lay-off could be a “nightmare” for Leeds United.

The former Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 30-year-old is an “inspirational player” Marcelo Bielsa may find impossible to replace.

Ayling sat out the League Cup win over Fulham with a knee injury.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday (23rd September), Bielsa admitted he could did not know if the right-back would be available against West Ham on Saturday.

Ayling had been filling in as a centre-back for Leeds, with Diego Llorente and Robin Koch injured and Pascal Struijk suspended.

McLeish admitted the former Yeovil star would be a big loss for the Whites.

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He questioned whether Leeds would be able to replace his influence out on the pitch.

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “He’s inspirational for the team. When he’s on the pitch, I think the players round about him are very comfortable.

“Luke Ayling’s an inspirational player. It’s almost like when you lose him, they’re actually saying: ‘What do we do?’

“This is when we have to see if Leeds have the backup. Have they got the strength in depth? That is the next question mark.

“Once you start losing your better players, then I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter how great a coach you are, how wonderful you can change tactics and stuff.

“If you lose your best players in that particular league, it’s sometimes a recipe for a little bit of a nightmare.”

Ayling has started all five of Leeds’ Premier League games this season.

He was subbed off late in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle.

In other news, Danny Mills claims Leeds United fans should be buzzing over youngster after what he has seen.