JUST IN : What Leeds United manager Daniel Farke had to said about his key defender

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke has stated that defender Luke Ayling’s leadership qualities are key to his squad, and that the right-back’s influence off the field is equally as important as his performances on it.

While Leeds fans were understandably concerned when the club announced that summer signing Djed Spence, who had been brought in on loan from Tottenham to fill the right-back spot, had suffered an injury in training and would be out for eight weeks, Ayling has looked solid in his last few games in White despite a shaky start to the season.

Signed in 2016 from Bristol City, Ayling is the longest-serving – as well as the oldest – member of Farke’s regular starting XI by some margin, and has stepped up to assume the mantle of club captain following an injury to Liam Cooper on the opening game of the season against Cardiff.

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The Englishman has been handed the armband in six of seven league matches for Leeds so far this season, and according to Farke, it is Ayling’s leadership qualities which make him such a key asset to a young Leeds squad.

“Luke’s influence is massive, you can’t overrate it because it’s so important,” Farke told the media at his pre-match press conference today.

“He’s a good player but he leads in the dressing room. He calms the lads down, sometimes an arm around the shoulder, sometimes a kick.

“We require this; we have young players, but we require experienced players.”

“I admire his mentality, and he brings it into the locker room.”

Ayling is expected to keep his place in the starting lineup for as long as new signing Spence is out, and will no doubt compete for the right-back position even when his younger rival returns to full fitness.

Leeds visit Watford at Elland Road tomorrow afternoon, with Farke likely hoping to give the home crowd their first league victory of the season.

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