By Frank McAvennie

15th Oct, 2021 | 7:00am

Leeds suffer 'massive blow' as injury expert rules Ayling out for another month - pundit

Luke Ayling’s extended absence is “absolutely gutting” and a “massive blow” to Leeds United.

That’s according to former West Ham hitman Frank McAvennie, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Thursday’s update on the defender.

On Thursday, as quoted by Phil Hay, Marcelo Bielsa explained Ayling, 30, is “halfway through” recovering from an injury he picked up against Newcastle in mid-September.

Injury expert and Football Insider pundit Ben Dinnery subsequently tweeted that Ayling may not return until after next month’s international break.

This would rule him out of five games, a development McAvennie described as “gutting”.

“Losing a stalwart like that is gutting, absolutely gutting,” McAvennie told Football Insider correspondent Ben Wild.

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“It upsets the rhythm of the team. He was never not there last season and we saw how good they were.

“Obviously, he scored a huge goal on the first day, we know how good he can be.

“Leeds have a few issues at the back and this is one they are going to have to fix. His absence is a massive blow.

“The mental side of it is a big one. Those players in the middle, like Phillips, won’t be as confident without Ayling behind them.

“They have a few big games to play, they need to get away from that bottom three as well.

“You need your best players for that so Ayling being ruled out, as I say, I’m gutted for him.”

Ayling is a key player for Bielsa and started every Premier League game for Leeds last season.

The Whites are next in action against Southampton on Saturday.

In other news, a pundit has claimed Raphinha ‘will not be at Leeds next season’ after a source update.