'Huge for us' - Luke Ayling hails transformation of Leeds United player with 'sure' prediction
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Seventeen-year-old Archie Gray was only handed his professional debut in this month’s Championship opener against visiting Cardiff City but the midfielder has started all three games that have followed in league and cup.
The teen is already one of just five Leeds players to have been ever-present in Daniel Farke’s Leeds league side along with centre midfield partner Ethan Ampadu plus keeper Illan Meslier, Pascal Struijk and current stand-in-skipper Luke Ayling.
Ayling is wearing the captain’s armband as Liam Cooper recovers from a ruptured plantar fascia and Ayling’s header was responsible for sealing Leeds a 1-1 draw in Friday night’s Championship hosting of West Brom in which Gray again excelled in the middle of the park.
Speaking post-match to Sky Sports, Ayling was full of praise for the teenager, shedding light on the midfielder’s physical development over the past year upon his recover from injury and declaring his confidence about the “great things” that lie in store longer term.
“It's huge for us,” said Ayling, asked how impressed he was with the maturity that Gray was showing. "We have lost a lot of players this summer and for somebody like Archie who was out for a lot of last year to come in, he worked so hard in the gym.
"He came back from pre-season like a new man. His leg's were like a man's legs, He has come back with a man's body and to play four games in such a short notice at Championship level is brilliant. But he's got a great head on his shoulders, he has got a great family around him and I am sure he has got great things ahead of him."