By support

22nd Mar, 2017 | 6:43pm

Forget Wood and Jansson, this Leeds star should be the first name on PL team sheet

COMMENT By Matt Farr

If Leeds can pull-off their promotion dream in the coming months, much of their success will have been down to the work of Chris Wood.

The striker has scored 24 goals from 36 Championship matches this season, leading Leeds into fourth place in the table with eight games remaining.

But the attacking success of Garry Monk’s side has often seen the efforts of several of the club’s key defensive figures go overlooked.

Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley have been exceptional at the heart of the defence, while Rob Green has proven to be both an important and reliable asset in between the sticks, but Luke Ayling has slipped under the radar.

Ayling, 25, has been ever-present at the back for Leeds this season, making 36 appearances in the Championship.

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There are a few concerns among Leeds fans regarding the number of yellow cards that Ayling has accumulated over the course of the season, with ten already to his name.

As a result, he sat out of the crucial clash with promotion rivals Brighton at the weekend, where Leeds ran out 2-0 winners at Elland Road.

However, his tendency to pick up bookings is by no means evidence that the defender has attitude problems, and more a case of Ayling getting stuck-in, and simply looking to win the ball back at every opportunity.

He is one of the most prolific tacklers in the Championship this season, with 76 tackles won, according to Squawka.

Although they play in different leagues, Ayling has even won more tackles than Chelsea midfield star N’Golo Kante, who has 67.

Ayling is also a considerable aerial threat, while his versatility as a defender that can play at both full-back and in a central role makes him an even more valuable asset to Monk and Leeds.

That is also why he should be considered one of the first names on the team sheet if Leeds are to fulfil their promotion dream and return to the Premier League next season.

In other Leeds news, with Newcastle stuttering, here is why Leeds’ automatic promotion bid is far from over.

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