Leeds United’s Luke Ayling responds to diving accusations and reveals how it’s changed his game

In a candid interview Luke Ayling has talked about the return of fans for top-flight football at Elland Road, his first Premier League goal, and social media accusations of diving.

The Leeds defender, who was so vital to the team’s return to the top flight, also talked about expectations for this season and where the club hopes to finish.

Speaking to Sky Sports he said that, moving on from last week’s 5-1 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford, the team could not wait to hear the roar of a full home ground.

“We’ve waited so long to get fans back in here for a Premiership game,” he said. “There’ll be probably half the fans in there that haven’t seen a Premiership game at Elland Road.

“So I just can’t wait to get them back in here and hear them singing at the top of their voices and it should be loud and it should be good.”

He was asked about a video which did the social media rounds in May and which showed the many occasions when he appeared to go down a little softly. The video was titled “The Ayling Flop: Season Review Video 2020/21”. Ayling retweeted it, adding the comment, “All fouls in my book,” with a few crying-laughing emojis.

“I think it’s been a bit of a running joke at this club for a while that sometimes I might have bought a foul or something,” he joked in the interview. “But there’s new rules in now. I won’t be going over now. So I’ve got to stand up and be strong, which is a bit of a change for me.”

He was also asked about scoring his first top-flight goal in the 5-1 loss to Man Utd. “It was a nice goal,” he said. “It was a nice feeling to get my first Premiership goal, but then afterwards you can’t talk about it. You can’t put it anywhere. You’ve just got to park it.”

Finally, he reflected on Leeds’ hopes for the coming season. “We’re hoping that we can improve again this year. That isn’t just our place in the table. We’re talking about as players learning more and getting better as players.

“Us boys hope we can do that this year and hopefully finish around where we finished last year, but then I think everybody knows how hard it is for a promoted team to stay up the first year, but then it’s even harder to stay up the second year.”

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