By Gabriel Agbonlahor

19th Jan, 2021 | 4:00pm

Pundit Exclusive: Barely-seen Leeds player tipped to slot into first XI after U23s display

Gabriel Agbonlahor has tipped Leeds United defender Diego Llorente to make his first Leeds United start in the coming weeks.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Premier League striker insisted the 27-year-old will be an upgrade on an out-of-position Luke Ayling who was at fault for Brighton’s winner in Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

Llorente was on the bench for the visit of the Seagulls for the first time since making his debut against Chelsea at the beginning of last month.

The Spain international made a return to action on Monday when he played the first half, and scored the only goal, in Leeds Under-23s 1-0 win over Stoke City.

His display at Stamford Bridge remains his only appearance for the senior side as he struggled with various injuries since his summer arrival.

Leeds are now in the middle of a 10-day break between Premier League games with their fixture against Southampton postponed allowing the Saints to play their FA Cup third-round tie with Shrewsbury Town this weekend.

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Asked by Football Insider whether Llorente should start their next game against Newcastle United on January 16, Agbonlahor said: “Definitely.

“I think Ayling has done OK but for me, he’s not a Premier League central defender.

“So, for me, if Llorente can get back in the side he’ll definitely be a better option.

“Lukey Agling’s position is right-back anyway so get him back on the right and put Llorente into the middle.”

Ayling has filled in at centre-back in the last seven games with Robin Koch out long-term and Liam Cooper only making a Premier League return against Brighton.

Youngster Pascal Struijk partnered the 29-year-old before Cooper’s return but operated in midfield against the Seagulls.

In other news, a top pundit has revealed what’s harming Leeds’ attacking play as Angus Kinnear vows to address it.