February 22, 2024

 

Djed Spence is within one month of returning for Leeds United based on the injury assessment they released in September

Djed Spence is within one month of returning for Leeds United based on the injury assessment they released in September (Image: Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lateral collateral ligaments heal and the clock is ticking on Djed Spence’s return to action for Leeds United. When the right-back was given his recovery timeline in mid-September, the home match with Plymouth Argyle on November 11 was circled as a conservative target for Spence’s return.

 

Now, with the latest international break out of the way, there is a block of five fixtures before the Championship pauses again. Daniel Farke will deliver an update on the 23-year-old and others in this week’s press conference, but the countdown is on and Spence’s rivals need to make hay while the sun shines.

 

Archie Gray’s particularly intensive October could yet see him pulled from right-back contention this weekend too. The 17-year-old played five full matches across a 13-day period for club and country over the past fortnight. It would be no surprise if Farke felt compelled to bench him at Norwich City on Saturday.

 

Jamie Shackleton was carrying a shoulder injury when we last heard from Farke, but should have recovered since the Bristol City win. If he is still struggling too, the window of opportunity could be open to vice-captain Luke Ayling.

 

Ayling has only started one of the last four matches for the Whites and that’s while Spence is injured. The time would always come for a concerted challenge on his place in the team and Ayling has to continue fighting to prove he’s Farke’s best option at right-back.

 

The general consensus has been, based on Spence’s success with Middlesbrough, he would ultimately nail down that right-sided berth. His knee injury has delayed that ascension and the opening for his team-mates is narrowing as November nears.

 

If Ayling, Gray or Shackleton hope to cement their place before Spence sharpens up, these coming games against Norwich, Stoke City, Huddersfield Town and Leicester City are pivotal in showing Farke why they cannot be dropped.

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