By Wayne Veysey
Luke Ayling is about a month away from being fit enough to return to the Leeds United team, Football Insider understands.
The right-back, 28, has missed the firs t five weeks of the season after suffering an ankle injury during the summer that required surgery.
He has started doing outdoor fitness work at the club’s Thorp Arch training headquarters but a Leeds source told Football Insider he is not likely to be considered for a starting role until next month.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) August 26, 2019
Marcelo Bielsa and his coaching staff are planning to gradually re-integrate Ayling back into their matchday squad once they are convinced he is fully recovered from injury.
He is expected to figure as an over-age player for the Under-23s before returning to the first-team set-up.
Ayling is then likely to start on the bench and get game time before he pushes for consideration to return to the starting XI.
He was a notable absentee from the Under-23s side that drew 0-0 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last night, while fellow unavailable first teamer Tyler Roberts made his return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines as a substitute.
Ayling also faces a battle to win back his place as Stuart Dallas has been converted from a winger into a right-back with some success by Bielsa this season.
The former Bristol City defender has been a mainstay of the Leeds back line since joining in the summer of 2016 under, not only Bielsa but also former managers Garry Monk, Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom.
He has made 116 appearances for Leeds over three years, making 40 league starts among 42 appearances last season.
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that Kalvin Phillips has a release clause in his new contract, and what is needed to trigger it.