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Leeds United

Leeds should recall Luke Ayling at centre-back v Aston Villa

Leeds United travel to Aston Villa on Sunday for a pivotal Championship fixture and a win will ensure they are top of the league over Christmas.

The Whites have won their last five consecutive league fixtures to climb to the top since a heavy defeat to West Brom and now look the real deal for promotion.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side have been given the boost that senior defender Luke Ayling is once again available following his injury absence and the manager confirmed he is likely to start at the weekend.

The 27-year-old’s return is a major boost due to an injury crisis in the backline, which has seen midfield pair Kalvin Phillips and Jamie Shackleton both drop in brilliantly to the defence.

Ayling has been sidelined since October with his injury problem, but is the club’s first-choice right-back and a real asset when fit.

(Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

But the £750,000-a-week signing (Daily Mail) should provide a short-term fix at centre-back against Villa before returning to full-back and he’s proven himself in the heart of defence before.

Leeds are still without captain centre-back Liam Cooper despite his return to training and Ayling should slot into his position, which would allow Phillips back into his preferred midfield role.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Shackleton has performed admirably since slotting in at right-back and doesn’t deserve to lose his starting position ahead of a huge fixture.

Leeds’ back four may have a much more familiar look to it in the next few weeks, but in the upcoming clash with Villa Ayling may be needed to help keep in-form striker Tammy Abraham quiet.

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