LUKE AYLING could finally return from his ankle injury for Leeds United's season finale against QPR on Sunday but fellow defenders Conor Shaughnessy and Vurnon Anita are facing a summer of rehab after undergoing surgery.
Ayling has not featured for Leeds injuring his ankle in the goalless draw at home to Nottingham Forest on New Year's Day with the defender subsequently undergoing surgery to repair damage to his cartilage.
But the defender has now been back in training at Thorp Arch for two weeks and Whites head coach Paul Heckingbottom has revealed there is a possibility that the 26-year-old could feature in Sunday's final game of the season against QPR at Elland Road.
But Heckingbottom also revealed that fellow defenders Shaughnessy and Anita are facing a summer on the comeback trail with both requiring surgery on their ankle injuries.
Shaughnessy picked up a similar injury to Ayling's in the goalless draw at Hull City at the end of January while Anita has not been seen since the 3-1 loss at Preston North End earlier this month.
Asked about the prospect of Ayling playing a part for the Whites this weekend, Heckingbottom said: "Yes, it's a possibility because he's trained really well.
"We've had other setbacks with the other boys returning in terms of not quite returning as quick or us not pushing them beyond just to get game time.
"But Luke's done great and he's trained well now for two weeks so he's in a good place."
Heckingbottom added: "We've had Vurnon [Anita] and Conor Shaughnessy in for surgery yesterday, Vurnon on his ankle.
"Vurnon's is on something he's needed that's not quite cleared up so they're going to have to work really, really hard this summer to be right for next season.
"With Conor they've gone in and done surgery to tidy it up, rather than wait.
"It's a combined decision on what's best.
"But what him and the medical team didn't want to happen was for him to push through come pre-season when there's football again and find it's not gone and then have the surgery."
Stuart Dallas (hamstring) and Tyler Roberts (cracked bone in his shin) also remain sidelined for Leeds but Laurens De Bock has returned to training after his hamstring injury.
Gaetano Berardi remains suspended as he serves the final game of his five-match ban.