Just like so many in the Leeds squad, Luke Ayling is preparing for his first taste of Premier League action this weekend and he’s someone that’s worked his way up the football ladder in England.
The defender spent much of his earlier career in League One with Yeovil Town followed by a spell with Bristol City, but it’s with Leeds in the Championship where he really started to be a success.
Ayling has taken his game up another level in the past two seasons courtesy of working with Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa and was key in the title-winning season last year that got Leeds promoted from the Championship.
The 29-year-old looks at the peak of his powers at Elland Road right now and he’s definitely got the ability to make the transition to the top-flight.
He’s certainly been one of the biggest beneficiaries at the Yorkshire club of the Bielsa system, as his role at right-back gets the very best out of him.
Ayling is an attack-minded full-back that is given such licence to fly forward into the final third, something that saw him score seven goals and supply five assists across all competitions last season.
There are some that may doubt whether he can replicate that at Premier League level, but Matt Doherty is a fine example that it may be done.
Doherty followed a similar path in recent years of League one to England’s top-tier and in the past two seasons has been one of the most consistent right-backs in the division.
He’s been in a wing-back role for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the past two years that allows him to play his best football and the 28-year-old is such a threat on the right flank.
Doherty has completed a £15million (Evening Standard) transfer to Premier League side Tottenham this summer to show far his stock has risen and it shows that the leap can be made.
Sheffield United’s defence copied a similar trend last season with their success in a system that was familiar to them and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy is the crowning example of players make late impacts at the top level.
Doherty and Ayling are both similar in terms of their attacking intent as well as their tenacious defensive style, which is why the latter may be capable of mirroring the new Spurs signing.