Dream Leeds United ending, Djed Spence reality, full-back must and striker choice: David Prutton

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Leeds United sending Djed Spence back to Tottenham was odd but he's just not played a lot of football for quite a while now, writes DAVID PRUTTON.

But Whites boss Daniel Farke will have his reasons for that decision and it doesn't really matter whether Djed agrees with them or not because he has interacted with a manager who sounds in total control of what is going on at Leeds. You just have to look at what Daniel Farke has done so far, the reputation that he comes with, the CV that he comes in with and the way that the team is going.

It would obviously be great if Leeds were in the top two but they are motoring along just nicely. If you are a Leeds fan then you hopefully trust Daniel's process because you are not getting rid of a player that has played 20-odd games.

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You are getting rid of a player that has kind of dipped his toe in so it becomes hypothetical. Are you going to miss him? Well probably not because you have not missed him so far. This is me trying to break it down objectively and practically because it's not always straightforward that a player goes to a club, hits the ground running and then becomes a vital part of it. But the next port of call for Djed is going to a place where he plays lots of games and we will soon see whether Daniel sees it fit to replace him.

'MODERN GREAT': Outgoing Leeds United stalwart Luke Ayling. Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images.'MODERN GREAT': Outgoing Leeds United stalwart Luke Ayling. Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images.
'MODERN GREAT': Outgoing Leeds United stalwart Luke Ayling. Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images.

It's a completely different thing with Luke Ayling's move to Middlesbrough and let's wax lyrical about him because I didn't realise how little he cost - £200,000?! There was a post that Leeds had put on social media and I put a comment up about him being just a lovely bloke and one of Leeds United's modern greats.

There will obviously be far better players that have pulled on that shirt and won different things. But when I say modern great, I was there myself a long time ago when we weren't very good and we didn't live up to expectation and it was a horror show off the pitch.

What Luke has come in and been a part of is off the back of the last very good Leeds team which was the young pups under David O'Leary in the Champions League. But Luke has been part of the best team since then, the best Leeds United incarnation in a generation in 20 odd years and I think he epitomizes what it meant to be a Leeds player.

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I know I have got a unique advantage on this having been a Leeds player myself. But I saw Luke as a kid at Bristol City and then heard very good things about him from the likes of Steve Cotterill as a younger player. He then got the chance to go to Leeds and to be part of a club and a team that was transformed under Marcelo Bielsa. Marcelo gets a hell of a lot of credit for that, he absolutely does.

But the old adage of when the student is ready the teacher will appear applies wholeheartedly to that and every single person got on board. If you weren't on board you got carted off so all credit to that group of players, the likes of Luke, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper et cetera that were ready to be taken forward by Marcelo and Marcelo was in a position where he could do something very, very special.

Luke was a huge, huge part of that. He absolutely wrung every last drop out of the ability that he had in a Leeds shirt and he gave a stuff which sounds like a fundamental but we all know there's lots of footballers that don't. I thought the line that he put in his message about going there with a fiancee and leaving with a wife and two kids was lovely because it humanizes a footballer. He's not just a player that you see in white on a Saturday or Tuesday.

He is a man that you might see in and around town who has got responsibilities like all of us normal Joe's have and he seems to be a very respectable man, husband, father, all that type of stuff. And then as a footballer you get to this stage.

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Mine was an absolute microcosm of that where I played for a bit, there was a change of manager, you end up on the bench, you end up out of the squad and you end up getting in a position where you feel a little bit hard done by or a little bit cheesed off by the situation and then you've got to go before it sours the whole thing.

I'm not saying that will have been the case for Luke but I totally understanding him thinking that his portion of his professional life at Leeds United might be coming to an end but that he is still 32. In the nick that he is in and with the fitness levels that he has got, he should get another five years out of his career, if not longer.

I think it was very smart of him to make the move to Middlesbrough at that time when the option was there at the level that he is at. If you wait any longer then you are out of contract and suddenly it's not a Championship club that says ‘come to us’, it's a League One side with the greatest respect to League One. Suddenly your cache and stock as a footballer is only current.

He might be a legend at Leeds but if you haven't played properly in seven months then it's not the same thing and that's me being brutally honest about what the business is. But geographically it works and I think to play for someone like Michael Carrick will be a real draw for Luke at 32 with the good mix that they have got there of young and old. And the fact that there is the potential for them to do something between now and the end of the season. I understand all that.

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That word 'great' gets thrown around but I think it absolutely fits Luke with what he has done at Leeds, what he has brought to the club and what the club has given him too. Luke Ayling isn't a Premier League footballer without Leeds and Leeds are nowhere near the Premier League without people like Luke Ayling in recent years.

It's a rare thing in football when across the board you can walk out and it be bittersweet in the sense of 'yes, it's coming to an end, but what a ride that was.’ It's the end credits of the best sporting films as he's walking off with everyone patting him on the back and nobody saying you could have done this and could have done that.

Yes, he was also part of a Leeds squad that came out of the Premier League but that's collective. But in a generation, I think he's given Leeds supporters some of the most wonderful recent memories that they could have ever wished for. I sincerely hope that Luke understands the magnitude of what he and those people did, not just for the club but for the city and that he will always be fondly remembered and well loved in the area.

The exits of Spence and Ayling has left Leeds with four full backs in Sam Byram, Junior Firpo, Jamie Shackleton and Archie Gray and the latter duo are natural midfielders. We have always said that Archie is a work in progress because he is still a baby and there are odd games that you can look at like Preston and West Brom where collectively the team didn't hit the heights. But when you look at where the goals have come from there is an element of thinking 'do we need to swap anything?' But he's still growing into it and I think the spread of the options is okay.

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You have to be mindful of Sam Byram's injury record and also Junior Firpo's. I don't mean this in a nasty way but I think it's fair to say that on the pitch Firpo owes Leeds a run in the team and his frustration will be about having not been able to play as much as he has done.

As a professional, that's absolutely right because all you hear are the naysayers and all the doubters about what you bring to the side. He owes it to himself and he owes it to Leeds to get in and have a good spread of games. With Sam, once he does play, he is a very reliable man in that position. Archie we know all about and then there is Jamie Shackleton too.

If someone properly sizeable comes up or you get a Premier League loanee in then fair enough. But I'm not thinking from the outside looking in that Leeds go breaking the bank for a full back.

At the other end of the pitch, I can't not mention Patrick Bamford's goal at Peterborough. That's two goals in two games for him now and the chat that comes with Patrick is of respect I think for his ability but a slight hint of frustration from a faction of the fanbase to recent output.

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But let's not forget what he's done and you can put him alongside Luke in being part of a team and a club and a squad that got the team back into the Premier League after an almighty wait. From his point of view, and having come across him very briefly a couple of times, the frustration that he will feel will be 100-fold compared to what a fan feels because you want to be on the pitch and you want to be doing your thing.

There would have been a sense of trepidation going into the Peterborough game because Peterborough are a good team. They can do damage to opposition but Leeds dispatched of them in relatively straightforward fashion and to take the goal in isolation, it was a thing of beauty, a thing of absolute individual inspiration.

To be able to control the ball at speed around your neck and then to have the bottle and the technique to be able to then take that shot on was just absolutely extraordinary. It strikes such a primal feeling in you as a football fan in that we've all grown up with the first thing you do in a footballing sense is get a ball at your feet and and then progress to kick around with your mates and play in the playground and you score the winner in the cup final and the World Cup in your head.

Only a very small portion are allowed to do it or are afforded the opportunity to do it as a job and a vocation in their career. It can become a very serious business very quickly. But then you watch that and you go 'football is amazing' and the shot of it down the pitch is just brilliant.

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Everyone is all really clever nowadays, sayings things like what could have stopped it? What about the goalkeeper’s position? Where was the defender? But forget all that because that was unstoppable and that is one of the most glorious things that you can see in football. There's goals that you see that you think could take a bit of brute force and a bit of luck and you think ‘I could give that a go.’ But not many people can do that, beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

Should he now start against Cardiff today? Drop him. He's peaked. But joking apart I think he should start. There's questions with regards to Joel Piroe's impacts. There's been a couple of games that I have seen where you are watching it and you suddenly hear his name from the commentary and you had forgotten he was playing.

That can happen to any player. You can have fallow periods and really productive periods in a season. Hopefully you bring players back at the right time, chomping at the bit and ready to go and hopefully that's where you see Patrick at. The proof has been in the pudding in the last couple of games and I think Bamford as a 9 with Georginio Rutter as the no 10 in behind works.

Leeds are going into a Cardiff game where they should be favourites and I don't think there should be too much trepidation in lining up like that. I know that the modern game is all about rotation and rest. But if you are going a bit more route one with your picking of a team then you look at Patrick and think he is flying so why would you change it?

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I would fancy Leeds to go to Cardiff and win. If they have aspirations of chasing down the teams at the top then it really should be a game that Leeds earmark as a win. Cardiff are ninth and they are only three points off the top six. If they beat Leeds they could be as close to knocking on the door as possible although you then look at Leeds' last couple of results but also the run a form that Cardiff find themselves in with one win the last four and being heavily thumped at Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.

Cardiff have got players that can cause you problems and they have got a defence that has been relatively tight at times over the course of the season with the likes of Dimitrios Goutas stepping into the fore. There's a team there that will be tough to beat. But for a team with aspirations of finishing anywhere near the top two, this is a game that Leeds need to block off.