In comments reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Luke Ayling has insisted that the likes of Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Paudie O'Connor and Tom Pearce have been unreal since emerging into the Leeds first-team this season, and suggested that the trio help provide the one major positive for the campaign.
While Leeds are currently on a post-season trip to Myanmar, the Whites will be able to start reflecting on a campaign that initially promised so much before fizzling out in hugely disappointing fashion.
The early pace-setters ended the campaign in the bottom-half of the table and boasted just four wins following the turn of the year, two of which came against sides who went into the final day of the season battling to stay in the Championship.
It was a season that the fans were probably looking forward to seeing the back of for a while, but there is some reason for optimism ahead of next year, with the likes of Peacock-Farrell, O'Connor and Pearce all getting their chance in the senior side after previously playing regularly for the under-23s. They have certainly put several of their teammates to shame since emerging into the side, and Ayling was full of praise for the trio.
“We’ve had some young lads who’ve come in and done brilliantly,” Ayling said, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Pearcey, Paudie, Bailey have been absolutely unreal.
“Obviously it’s been a bad season but we’ve now brought three young lads through who’ve shown they can play for Leeds United quite easily. That’s our positive for the season – them three coming through.”
Of course, Paul Heckingbottom would have preferred to be in a position that left Leeds not needing to call up so many of their under-23s with several weeks remaining in the season. But now that it has happened, the experience has got to be used as a positive.
Heading into next year, the trio, as well as the likes of Hugo Diaz and Ryan Edmondson, have some first-team experience under their belt and that could be hugely beneficial if they are in Heckingbottom's immediate plans once the Championship starts up again.
And if the club can get their summer recruitment right, perhaps the squad may have the perfectly balanced squad that will allow them to sustain a promotion challenge for the entire campaign.