Whelan 'expects' another Leeds reshuffle v West Ham after Llorente blow
Marcelo Bielsa could move Luke Ayling to centre-back as Leeds United take on West Ham amid a new availability crisis, according to Noel Whelan.
The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 66-year-old will look to “experience over youth” despite Leo Hjelde’s impressive debut in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Diego Llorente is suspended for Saturday’s clash, while Pascal Struijk, Charlie Cresswell, and Liam Cooper could all be ruled out through injury.
Ayling has already played the role seven times this term as Leeds United continue to wrestle with a plague of injuries.
Whelan suggested the 30-year-old right-back will play an important role as the Whites look to increase their gap to the relegation zone.
“I think we’ve seen a majority of times with Bielsa that he likes to go with experience,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
“I think he’ll want to shuffle things around rather than keep Hjelde in the side. The Premier League is vitally important, we need to build that buffer up to the bottom three.
“The other day I didn’t think West Ham were particularly great, but they played better than us on the day.
“I expect he’ll move Luke Ayling over to centre-back, possibly playing Stuart Dallas at right-back with Junior Firpo at left-back.
“There’ll be movement, and I’m sure in that crucial spine of the side he will probably opt for experience over youth.”
Leeds United sit 16th in the Premier League with an eight-point buffer to the drop zone.
Ayling is likely to partner Robin Koch, the only other fit centre-back within the senior ranks.