Leeds have suffered a huge blow to their play-off hopes after consistent defender Luke Ayling was ruled out for the rest of the season after ankle surgery.
The 26-year-old right-back suffered the injury in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Newport and has now gone under the knife, the club have confirmed.
Ayling, who signed a new contract until 2021 in October, has made 30 appearances for United this season with the club sixth in the Sky Bet Championship.
Not what any of us wanted… ankle wasn’t as good as we all first thought… now time to rest, recover and hopefully get back sooner then they think.. thank you all for your messages means a lot #not
— Luke Ayling (@lukeayling_8) January 10, 2018
Discussing the setback on Twitter, Ayling wrote: “Not what any of us wanted. Ankle wasn’t as good as we all first thought. Now time to rest, recover and hopefully get back sooner than they think.
“Thank you for all your messages. It means a lot.”
The news comes as another huge blow for Leeds after forward Samuel Saiz was banned for six games for spitting during the FA Cup third-round defeat at Newport.
Boss Thomas Christiansen was already short of full-back options, although the club are reportedly close to a deal for Club Brugge left-back Laurens De Bock and could recall Lewie Coyle from his loan spell at Fleetwood.