Luke Ayling says Leeds United no longer possess the fitness levels of ‘years gone by’ after a 3-1 defeat at West Ham United on Sunday.

Speaking to Sky Sports following the game at the London Stadium, the defender claimed Leeds just weren’t able ‘to go again’ in the second half after putting so much into the opening 45 minutes.

As Ayling mentioned, Leeds started the game well with Patrick Bamford getting in behind West Ham’s defence on several occasions and their dominance paid off when Rodrigo Moreno volleyed in an opener.

West Ham United v Leeds United - Premier League
Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

The Hammers gradually worked their way back into proceedings, though, and got back on level terms through Declan Rice to leave it all square heading into the break.

It was pretty much all one way traffic from then as Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini both got on the scoresheet in the final 20 minutes to seal a 3-1 win.

Ayling says Leeds lacking fitness levels

Under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds prided themselves on being fitter than their opponents and were often the team who covered the most distance in matches.

That could not be any further from the case now, with 25 points dropped from winning positions showing Leeds just cannot last the pace.

West Ham were away in Europe on Thursday night, drinking alcohol after progressing to the final of the Conference League and still looked fresher than Leeds.

There is simply no excuse and speaking after the match, Ayling could not put his finger on as to why it has happened.

He said: “Very disappointed, we started the game well, went 1-0 up and then we concede a goal again. We come out at half time and feel okay but the second half just isn’t good enough.

“We just can’t seem to go again, we put so much into the first half and the second half we just have nothing.

“In years gone by, teams have feared us when it comes to a running point of view and our fitness, but I just don’t feel like it’s there this season.

“We start brightly, score a goal then they score a goal. That can happen at this level but then we come out for the second half and just can’t seem to go again.”

West Ham United v Leeds United - Premier League
Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

On the pitch, off the pitch, Leeds have lost everything they once had under the management of Bielsa.

This admission from Ayling is the clearest thing yet to indicate a huge clear-out is needed, regardless of the division Leeds are playing in.

Too many members of the squad have outstayed their welcome which has ultimately led to Leeds being in the situation they’re in.

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