Leeds United are reportedly set to reward cult hero Luke Ayling with a new contract following his heroics against Wolves.
The defender popped up with a crucial stoppage-time goal in the Premier League relegation battle which saw the Whites pick up all three points on their travels. He and his team-mates are fully focused on securing top-flight survival under Jesse Marsch.
But off the pitch, Ayling, 30, has entered the final 18 months of his current deal at Elland Road.
Since his 2016 arrival from Bristol City for just £200k he has been a mainstay in the side. And it seems the club’s hierarchy don’t want that to change.
According to Football Insider, they are confident of extending his contract by at least another year.
That would take him to 32 years old and a seven-year stint in Yorkshire.
He earned massive praise on Sky Sports following the Wolves win, with Gary Neville highlighting him as the standout performer.
“I think Ayling can only play the game one way,” the former Manchester United man said.
“He has massive energy, he’s a big spirit in the team. He’s won Leeds the game in the second half.”
Leeds ‘showed a bit of character’
Ayling himself said (via Leeds Live): “It’s some buzz you know. We come in 2-0 down with a sloppy goal at the end of the half, but we come out second half and showed a bit of character.
“The man getting sent off is a massive game changer and it’s a massive three points.
“We got in some great positions in the first half and maybe taken a goal before they got their first, but that sums up our season. We created a few chances then they counter and score.
“As soon as the red card happened it gave us a boost, we got the first and then the second. After the second we went a bit flat and went long too quickly, but then obviously got the third in the end.”
Ayling explains goal celebration
Ayling celebrated his goal with an acrobatic routine which didn’t quite go to plan.
“I tried to do the Robbie Keane celebration but didn’t land the cartwheel so I’ll have to work on that,” he joked.
His goal drew Leeds seven points clear of the drop zone, albeit having played more games than the four teams below them.
Back-to-back wins after also beating Norwich last weekend has been huge for Marsch and his men, though.
Ayling continued: “It’s huge for us to put a bit of daylight between us and relegation but teams have games in hand so we need to see what happens with them games and try to keep building on these set of results.
“We’ve been playing well since the new gaffer came in, so we’ve got to keep building and picking up points.”