Leeds United to welcome world champion for Elland Road trophy parade but Ayling farewell hits snag

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The world’s number one darts player Luke Humphries and his recently-won PDC World Championship trophy will grace the Elland Road pitch when Leeds United host Preston North End on Sunday.

Humphries beat 16-year-old Luke Littler at Alexandra Palace earlier this month to win his first PDC World Championship title and secure the £500,000 first prize. The 28-year-old Leeds supporter also became world number one and is the sport’s in-form man, having won four of the Professional Darts Corporation’s last five major televised tournaments. He recently paid a visit to Thorp Arch to meet the Leeds squad and posed for photos with the likes of boss Daniel Farke, Georginio Rutter and Liam Cooper. Speaking after his world title win Humphries admitted he would dearly love to take the trophy to the stadium on a matchday. He told ITV: “Someone said 'we'll wait until you’re world champion and then you can parade the trophy' and they were right. That would be a special, special thing to do to parade that trophy around Elland Road. For me to walk up on that pitch would be sensational. I wouldn't change my club for the world. The fans are just incredible, they support me so well. There is a saying with the Leeds fans that they're so loyal and if you're doing well they'll support you more than anything. I wouldn't want to be associated with any other club."

Sunday’s game against Preston will allow Humphries to make his Elland Road dream come true. He is due to parade his trophy around the pitch at half-time during the Championship game, which kicks off at 12pm. Another of his dreams is to see his boyhood club returned to the Premier League, but he admitted to talkSPORT that he isn’t expecting it to be easy this season. “Definitely. It would be a dream,” he said. “But that’s the great thing about the Championship, it’s an incredibly tough league to get out of. Leeds were in it for 15 years before we broke back into the Premier League. That would be a dream but there is a lot of good teams in the Championship and it’s going to be really, really tough. I think it’s going to go down to the wire.”

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Leeds had been hoping that Luke Ayling, who last week concluded a loan move to Championship rivals Middlesbrough, would also be present at the Preston game in order to receive a proper Elland Road send-off. The right-back’s contract at Leeds is up this summer and will not be renewed, meaning his FA Cup substitute cameo at Peterborough United was his final outing for the Whites. Ayling, however, will be training with his loan club on Sunday and unable to attend. Leeds aim to keep the invite open and hope to welcome the defender back in front of fans in the near future.