Ian Harte has blasted Leeds United defender Luke Ayling during an interview with FourFourTwo for his comments after the Whites suffered defeat to West Ham on Sunday – with Ayling suggesting the Leeds players lack fitness.

Leeds crumbled on Sunday. In what was a must-win game in order to give Leeds any chance of avoiding the drop, Leeds took the lead but from the 30-minute mark – we folded. Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen and Manu Lanzini scored.

It sees Leeds remain in 19th place and with just one game left to play – we need Bournemouth to beat Everton at Goodison Park. We need West Ham, fresh from beating us, to get a result at Leicester, and we need to beat Spurs.

Speaking immediately after the loss to West Ham, Leeds defender Ayling quite bizarrely blamed management for not pushing the Leeds players to make them as fit as they once were. He said: “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,” Ayling said.

Harte responded. The ex-Leeds defender was not impressed by Ayling’s comments, stating it was hard to accept. He made it clear that Ayling needs to shoulder some blame and responsibility, saying it had little to with fitness.

West Ham United v Leeds United - Premier League
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“I disagree with what he said. Not fit enough? Leeds always run. For him to say ‘We’re fit enough’ is hard to accept. Training sessions are monitored. They have little packs on the backs; you can’t hide away from anything nowadays. 

“Even in games, stats are collated. You’ve got to deal with the fact you’ve lost. You need to put your body on the line, accept you’re in a relegation battle. There’s no point in sulking, earn the right to play in the Premier League.”

Harte blasts Leeds defender Ayling for comments after West Ham defeat

Harte is right. Leeds cannot have lost the fitness they had under Marcelo Bielsa – or not all of it – in the space of little over a year. These Leeds players still ran and chased as if they had endless stamina under Jesse Marsch.

Under Javi Gracia and now Sam Allardyce, they are more pragmatic. But they cannot have lost the fitness in that short space of time. It is a sign that Ayling is just trying to blame other things. As Harte says, earn the right to play.

West Ham United v Leeds United - Premier League
Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images

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