Garry Monk explains Chris Wood's absence for Leeds' clash with Fulham; suggests whether striker and Luke Ayling will return this weekend

Leeds manager Garry Monk

Leeds United drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage against Fulham, but had to do it without Chris Wood and Luke Ayling.

Leeds manager Garry MonkLeeds manager Garry Monk

Leeds boss Garry Monk has told BBC Radio Leeds that Chris Wood was rested for the Fulham game as a precaution, and he expects the striker and Luke Ayling to be back in contention for this weekend's game with Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road.

The Whites had to go to Craven Cottage without two of their most impressive players this season. But while Ayling's absence was not surprising as he had just welcomed the arrival of his baby daughter, there was perhaps some surprise to see the Championship's top goalscorer Wood left out of the squad entirely. 

But speaking after the 1-1 draw against Slavisa Jokanovic's men, Monk not only confirmed that Wood's injury was not serious, but added that he and Ayling should be in contention to feature against the Hoops.

"He just had a bit of tightness in the calf after the Birmingham game, so rather than risking him and taking a needless risk, I decided to rest him for this game, so it's as simple as that. There's no need to risk that situation," he told BBC Radio Leeds.

Leeds United's Chris Wood celebrates scoring their first goalLeeds United's Chris Wood

"Yeah, I'm sure [Wood will be back against QPR]. But like I say, it's my job to manage the group and how I see fit. I work with them every day, I see them every day, I know how they are, how honest they are and it's for me to pick what I feel is best for each individual player but what's best for the team as well.

"I'm sure that he'll be back ready and focused, after a few sleepless nights, for the game at the weekend," he later added when asked about whether Ayling will return for the weekend.

While the manner of the result was not ideal - Fulham scored a stoppage-time equaliser thanks to a player once on Leeds' books - Monk's men can take a tremendous amount of confidence from the game.

Leeds' Luke AylingLeeds' Luke Ayling

They secured a point against one of the teams in the top seven that arguably boast the most momentum currently - thus maintaining their advantage to the teams outside the play-off places - and did it without Ayling and Wood, who have both been key to their success this term.

And if the pair can return against the Hoops, that will definitely provide the squad with a major boost ahead of a game where Leeds will be looking to banish the incredibly painful memories from their previous meeting.

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