Former Leeds United star Noel Whelan thinks the Whites will be taking a huge risk if they play right-back Luke Ayling as a centre-back at points during the season.

The Championship outfit are currently short in numbers in the centre of defence after Sol Bamba agreed to leave the club by mutual consent earlier in the month.

Leeds, who snapped up Ayling from Bristol City on a three-year deal in the summer, have thus far conceded nine goals in five Championship outings, the joint third-highest in the division.

And Whelan has insisted that although Ayling has great positional sense, the former striker feels Leeds would be taking a huge gamble if they deploy the 25-year-old as a centre-back.

The 41-year-old, who went on to add that Leeds need at least four proper centre-backs, is of the opinion that the Whites should be looking at academy products and free transfers to make up the numbers at the back.


“In certain positions you want four and you want four centre-halfs or two partnerships”, Whelan wrote in his column in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“You want two starting and then one on the bench and then one who is just going to be there.

“Unless they have got someone coming through the under-23s who we can give a bit of game time here and there and who we can call upon if there are a bout of injuries within that specific position, then we might have to look to get another one in on a free transfer – someone who is a free agent.

“For me, having four players in specific positions is a must. If people are coming through the 21s then I think you will find a lot of people will get bullied and they will find the pace and the strength of the Championship very, very difficult."

And Whelan thinks that shifting Ayling over to the centre would be a risk, despite his talent.

“And I even think Luke Ayling going back to centre-half is a risk and a gamble. He’s a very talented player, I can see that, and he knows his position very, very well.

“But I think stepping into a different kind of role like that and a very important role at centre-half is taking a chance.”

Ayling, who is a product of Arenal's youth system, has thus far made four Championship appearances for Leeds.