By Noel Whelan

20th Sep, 2021 | 1:30pm

Whelan fears Ayling may have knee ligament injury in potentially crushing Leeds blow

Noel Whelan fears Leeds United defender Luke Ayling may have suffered a knee ligament injury.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker is concerned the club have been hit by a devastating new injury blow.

Ayling, 30, joined the growing Leeds casualty list when he limped off at St James’ Park in Friday night’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United with a minute of normal time running.

Marcelo Bielsa is quoted by new Football Insider injury expert Ben Dinnery as saying he could be about to lose a fourth option at centre-back.

Leeds are already without Diego Llorente and Robin Koch due to injury while Pascal Struijk has two matches to serve on a three-game suspension.

“We are already struggling with centre-halves,” Whelan told Football Insider‘s Adam Williams.

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“Ayling’s didn’t look the worst to me at the time. He just came in and blocked a challenge, that dangling leg just got caught.

“It looked like he may have tweaked a knee ligament, which would be the last thing Bielsa needs. They will have a look and hopefully it isn’t too bad.

Ayling has been a nailed-on starter when fit throughout Bielsa’s reign at Leeds, mainly in his normal right-back position.

He slotted in to centre-back alongside Liam Cooper at Newcastle in what was his fifth start out of five in Premier League matches this season.

Ayling also played at centre-back in the EFL Cup win against Crewe Alexandra last month.

In other news, Leeds United set sights on signing “electrifying” player after talks held.