Alex McLeish has heaped praise on versatile Leeds United star Luke Ayling after his performance at the heart of defence against West Ham.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former treble-winning Rangers, Scotland and Premier League manager insisted the 29-year-old is “an example to youngsters everywhere”.
Ayling has started every Premier League game this term and was deployed at centre-half against the Hammers rather than in his usual full-back role.
Marcelo Bielsa was forced to play the Arsenal academy graduate out-of-position due to injuries to summer signings Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
Koch faces up to three months on the sidelines after having surgery on his knee while Llorente should return this month.
Asked by Football Insider what he made of Ayling in his first Premier League season, McLeish said: “He’s a great lesson for young guys growing up when you see the journey he’s had and now he’s in the Premier League with Leeds.
“He’s come up through the divisions and you’re looking at him for little chinks in his armour. You think ‘can he do this well? Can he do that well?’ And he’s been impeccable.
“He’s really risen to the challenge and is raising the bar for himself. Going from the Championship, Leeds were playing above themselves to get promotion.
“Now they’re playing above themselves again and Luke Ayling is an example to youngsters everywhere.”
A right-back by trade, Leeds’ number two has featured at centre-back four times this season before the visit of West Ham.
According to transfermarkt, the Whites’ have now won two of the games Ayling has lined up at the heart of Bielsa’s defence and have lost the other two.
In other Leeds United news, Noel Whelan has destroyed a “spoilt” player “wasting his talent” after update via the Athletic.