Peter Crouch declares sympathy for Leeds United star and provides Patrick Bamford backing

PETER Crouch says VAR has ripped the enjoyment out of football and admits he felt so sorry for Leeds United's Luke Ayling in Friday's 2-1 win at Fulham.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 9:50 pm

Whites defender Ayling thought he had scored his first Premier League goal when putting a precise header from a Tyler Roberts cross into the top left corner during the early stages of the first half.

Ayling then raced away to celebrate and unleashed his long flowing locks before pretending to play an air guitar to mark the milestone strike.

However, joy then turned to despair within a few minutes as the goal was checked by VAR and ruled out due to Roberts being adjudged offside by the smallest of margins.

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FALSE HOPE: For Leeds United defender Luke Ayling who thought he had scored his first Premier League goal with his fine header against Fulham, above, in Friday's clash at Craven Cottage. Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Writing in his Ask Crouchie column for the Daily Mail, Crouch said: "VAR — and how it has been implemented — has ripped the enjoyment out of football.

"The latest episode of misery was Friday night at Craven Cottage when Luke Ayling thought he had scored for Leeds.

"His hairband came out, he started playing the air guitar —then his first ever Premier League goal was ruled out because someone’s shoulder was in front of a yellow line.

"Was that decision really clear and obvious? I felt so sorry for him. There will be more incidents like this before May."

Ayling's form has even put him on England boss Gareth Southgate's radar.

There were reports that both Ayling and Whites team mate Patrick Bamford would receive their first ever senior international call ups to the Three Lions squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers.

But neither received selection and Southgate's decision to overlook Bamford has been a particular subject of much debate as Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins was essentially selected instead.

Kalvin Phillips is the sole Whites player in Southgate's squad.

Asked if he thought Bamford was unlucky, Crouch said: "It’s a thankless task being England manager.

"We have a lot of very good players, all of whom have staked their claims. Lots of people have their favourites and it is inevitable Gareth Southgate is going to make some unpopular decisions.

"I can’t criticise the decision to pick Ollie Watkins, who has had an excellent season. He deserves his opportunity and it’s probably come down to the toss of a coin. Bamford has two goals in his last seven games, Watkins has one in seven.

"Bamford is a bit different from any other striker in the Premier League and I’d love to see him get a chance one day."

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Thank you Laura Collins