Leeds United: Luke Ayling, the value of youth and a change in shape?

Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.
Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.
Following the Championship finale at Elland Road, Joe Urquhart takes a look at the key talking points after Leeds United's 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers.

Amazing Ayling shows what's been missing

Luke Ayling returned to action for the first time since New Year's Day and boy did he show Whites fans what they'd been missing.

The 26-year-old notched 79 touches, the most of any Leeds player, completed 50 passes, three successful dribbles, intercepted the ball three times and won five aerial duels. Although the stats are clear on his immediate impact the right-back also brought much needed balance back to the side.

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Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.
Leeds United players ahead of kick-off against QPR.

Defensively Gaetano Berardi, who filled in for much of the season in Ayling's absence, matches his fellow defender but where Leeds have fallen short is having that attacking threat and willingness to get forward down the right.

Ayling's offensive abilites were clear for all to see and his presence immediately gave Leeds another attacking edge that has been so sorely missed in recent months.

Pearce pushes on... but still no contract?

Tom Pearce again put in a solid showing at left-back and has come on leaps and bounds since his debut against Sheffield Wednesday.

The 19-year-old will be hoping to nail down his spot in the starting eleven next season but firstly the Whites need to make sure he is still at Elland Road next campaign.

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Pearce's contract is up this summer and although United will be due compensation if he does leave West Yorkshire Heckingbottom has previously stated he will be offered a new deal but, as they say, there's no time like the present.

A star is born?

At the age of 16 Ryan Edmondson stepped off the bench to make his Leeds United debut.

Replacing goalscorer Kemar Roofe he almost scored with his first touch as Ezgjan Alioski cut the ball back inside the area but his effort was deflected just over the bar - a star in the making?

All the noises about Edmondson coming out of Thorp Arch are positive and United believe they have a real talent on their hands. What happens next will be key, a big pre-season awaits for the youngster after his first real taste of the big time.

4-3-3 provides much needed balance

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A formation change saw United look far more balanced on Sunday. Of course, the return of Luke Ayling aided the defence with fellow full-back Tom Pearce pushing on down the left but the closing down of space from the front three gave the midfield much more space to cut through the QPR defence at will.

The weekend showing will have given Heckingbottom food for thought on how he plans to set out his side going forward and the 2-0 victory was arguably as well as the Whites have played under the 40-year-old so far.

Could 4-3-3 be the new dawn next season?

Honourable mentions

Kemar Roofe reaches 14 goals for the season.

Kalvin Phillips ends the season how he started it - with a goal.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell finally gets his first clean sheet.

What were your thoughts on the victory? Let us know in the comments section below.