Bristol City assistant manager John Pemberton wants Luke Ayling to receive a warm reception on his return to the club tonight - and admits the Leeds United defender’s “infectious character” has been missed at Ashton Gate.
Right-back Ayling will turn out against City for the first time since joining United on a three-year contract midway through the final month of the summer transfer window.
Leeds head coach Garry Monk moved to sign Ayling after losing Gaetano Berardi to a hamstring strain and Ayling has held down a starting place ever since arriving at Elland Road.
The former Arsenal trainee is well regarded by one half of Bristol having played almost 100 times for City and helped the club to promotion from League One as champions in 2015.
Pemberton, the former Leeds defender, said: “He absolutely, 100 per cent deserves a good reception. Knowing this club as I do, I hope he gets it.
“One thing about our supporters is they do realise when someone has done really well for the club. What he did for this club was outstanding. He was fantastic.
“He’s a great lad,a really infectious character, and because he was that sort of person we do miss him about the place. He was very successful and we were sorry to see him go.”
Ayling’s exit came as a surprise to City’s supporters but the move to Leeds was sanctioned by manager Lee Johnson after he altered his team’s formation from a system which previously relied on three central defenders.
Pemberton said: “Luke was a fantastic fit for us when we played three centre-halves. It was probably best that he moved when we decided to change formation because the role changed.
“All of a sudden we wanted different things for different positions and Luke wasn’t quite a fit. But you can tell he’s a good player because he’s gone to a big club.”
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