'It's come naturally' - Luke Ayling on his marauding style of play at Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa

The Whites return to Premier League action against West Ham on Monday night.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 4:30 pm

Luke Ayling believes his style of play has come naturally under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United.

The Whites full-back has been in impressive form this season as he plays out his first campaign in the Premier League.

Ayling left Arsenal as a youngster without making a first team appearance and has worked his way up through the divisions before finally reaching the top flight with the Whites last summer.

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Leeds United full-back Luke Ayling. Pic: Getty

The 29-year-old has played a key role at the club since his signing from Bristol City in 2016 for around £200,000.

He has been required to play as both a full-back and a centre-back this term amid injuries under Bielsa, though can often be spotted in the opposition box or centre of midfield when chosen in his natural position on the right side of defence.

Ayling believes it is a part of his game that has developed over time after his upbringing at the Gunners, with it fitting perfectly under the Argentine in West Yorkshire.

"As a centre-half growing up then moving out to right-back, I'm always more confident coming inside," Ayling said.

"I'm never going to be one of those full-backs who does a few step overs and take on a player.

"I try to do something different... stepping inside and opening that picture up where I can pass it to somebody who can do a lot more damage than me has just come naturally.

"That goes back to my childhood. Playing for Arsenal it's all been playing out from the back. It was all training sessions geared around keep ball.

"I think I got that good base growing up. As you get older you get more confidence and experience, you want to take the ball in areas you maybe wouldn't growing up."

Ayling has also taken on more responsibility in recent seasons at Elland Road, having been appointed vice-captain to Liam Cooper.

"On the pitch I feel like I have grown into my position," he continued.

"At 29 that's good, I feel like I'm physically good. Off the pitch I think I've grown more as a leader. I've been given the vice-captain role which is nice.

"Myself, Coops, Stuey Dallas and Pablo [Hernandez] - we're a group that have been here for four or five years now and I think that role off the pitch is something you naturally take on."