DEFENDER Luke Ayling admitted he would be persuading close friend Kyle Bartley to join Leeds United this summer after making a big impression on and off the pitch following a four-month absence.
Ayling made a quicker than expected return from an ankle injury in yesterday’s 2017-18 finale at home to Queens Park Rangers in which goals from Kemar Roofe and Kalvin Phillips gave United a comfortable 2-0 victory.
After a disappointing season in which Leeds could manage only a 13th-placed finish, Leeds are known to be interested in signing Swansea City centre-back Bartley with the defender having impressed on loan last season when United narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs.
Bartley and Ayling are close friends with the duo having formerly played together for Arsenal’s youth teams before being reunited at Leeds.
After impressing on his return from a four-month lay off, Ayling revealed he was going on holiday with Bartley twice this summer to Las Vegas and Marbella and the full-back admitted he would be trying to persuade the 26-year-old to return to Elland Road.
“I speak to him every day,” said Ayling. “I am 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.”
Ayling shone at right-back as Leeds cruised to victory against an out-of-sorts QPR.
Roofe fired the Whites ahead with an overhead kick from a corner on the half-hour mark and Phillips doubled the United advantage two minutes after the break with a calm, low finish when latching on to Hoops goalkeeper Joe Lumley’s poor back pass.
The contest also featured a debut for 16-year-old striker Ryan Edmondson, who was brought on as a second-half substitute and the well-built teenager almost scored with his first touch when his powerful effort was deflected over the bar.
United’s Gjanni Alioski also missed a sitter when connecting with a fine cross from Roofe only to see Lumley parry his effort behind for a corner.
The victory marked a fourth win for head coach Heckingbottom, who is expecting to keep his job this summer.
Heckingbottom said: “The club came and got me so they know what I want to try and do and how I want to set the team up.
“I’ve not changed my mind in how I want the team to play and what I want the team to look like.”
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Jansson (Pennington 45), Cooper, Pearce, Forshaw (O’Kane 87), Vieira, Phillips, Alioski, Roofe (Edmondson 73), Ekuban. Unused substitutes: Lonergan, Saiz, Sacko, Lasogga. QPR: Lumley, Wszolek (Smyth 61), Furlong, Bidwell, Manning, Scowen, Cousins, Chair (Osayi-Samuel 60), Freeman, Eze (Oteh 73), Smith. Unused substitutes: Ingram, Kakay, Hamalainen, Owens. Referee: Darren England.