Leeds United: I'll urge Bartley to sign, reveals Ayling

Luke Ayling made a long-awaited return to Leeds United's starting line-up and then promised to do his best to tempt Kyle Bartley back to Elland Road this summer.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 6th May 2018, 4:34 pm
Updated Sunday, 6th May 2018, 4:41 pm
Luke Ayling.
Luke Ayling.

Ayling vowed to work on Bartley and “be in his ear” during two holidays with the Swansea City centre-back with Leeds vying to re-sign Bartley before the start of next season.

United have installed the 26-year-old as a key transfer target following a poor Championship term in which their defence have conceded 64 goals.

Bartley was part of a reliable and consistent Leeds backline during a year on loan at Elland Road in 2016-17, a backline which included Ayling and current Leeds defender Pontus Jansson.

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Luke Ayling.

He went back to Swansea at the end of that spell and signed a new four-year contract at the Liberty Stadium in August but United have made fresh enquiries about his signature and believe Swansea will be open to permanent bids if they avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Swansea’s status is far from secure after results over the weekend dropped them into the bottom three but Ayling, whose appearance in today's 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers was his first since undergoing ankle surgery in January, vowed to talk Bartley into a move when they head off on planned trips to Las Vegas and Marbella.

The pair have been close friends since their time in Arsenal’s youth ranks and they lived together while Bartley was with Leeds for the 2016-17 term.

“I speak to him every day,” Ayling said. “I’m going away with him twice this summer and I’ll be in his ear, don’t you worry about that, trying to get him back.

“There’s got to be a lot of stuff that happens for him to come back but hopefully we can get him.

“He’s a big character in the dressing room. He’s loud, he’s a good presence and obviously he would be good coming back. Coops (Liam Cooper) has stepped in and done really well this year and Pontus has done well. Kyle coming back in would make that even better.”

Leeds have suffered without Bartley and were also hampered by the loss of Ayling to an ankle injury sustained in a 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.

United have won just four games in Ayling’s absence but the right-back, whose rehabilitation was expected to run into the summer, made his comeback ahead of schedule with a 90-minute performance against QPR.

The crowd at Elland Road greeted him with a huge ovation when he appeared before kick-off and Ayling said: “It’s been a long four months. To come out to that when my name got read out and there was a big cheer, it felt good. My calves gave up after about 70 minutes but I got through it. The ankle felt fine which is the most important thing.

“For me, it’s been my first real long-term injury. It was hard and to see the team not doing so well, it was hard to watch. We can't hide away from it, it hasn't been a good season, but the boys have stuck together and we go away and spend some time with our families and then come back to start again.”