Leeds defender Luke Ayling makes Cristiano Ronaldo admission ahead of Manchester United fixture

Leeds United right-back Luke Ayling is relishing the prospect of going toe to toe with Cristiano Ronaldo when Manchester United visit Elland Road on Sunday afternoon, describing him as one of the “greatest players to ever play the game”.

Ronaldo is set to face Leeds for the first time since October 2003 after returning to Old Trafford at the end of last summer’s transfer window.

The Portuguese star re-signed for United shortly after they’d swept Leeds aside on the opening day of the season, meaning Sunday’s tussle will see him face the Whites for the first time in almost 20 years.

Although Ronaldo’s presence is likely to make Leeds’ challenge of toppling United that little bit harder, Ayling is looking forward to going up against the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game; of course it’s great to be on the same pitch as someone like that,” Ayling told Sky Sports.

“Everyone’s watched him for years, it’ll be nice to get on the same pitch as him and hopefully do well against him.”

Leeds will be desperate to inflict revenge on United after their 5-1 hammering back in August.

After Bruno Fernandes’ opener, Leeds drew level shortly after half-time through Ayling, but United turned the heat up to score four second-half goals to seal a memorable opening-day triumph.

Reflecting on the last meeting between the two clubs, Ayling added: “The game at Old Trafford was a weird one.

“We felt like we stayed in it first half, stayed alright, went in at 1-0 down and got it back to 1-1, then there was just a mad five minutes where they scored three goals and it was 4-1 before we knew it.

“We take a lot of heart from what we did against them at our place [last season], I thought we did really well and got a 0-0 draw, we coped with them really well.”

Leeds’ supporters will be desperate to see their side get the better of their fiercest rivals and Ayling knows just what the game means to the fans.

“We know what a big game it is for the fans,” Ayling added. “They’ve waited 17 years to get back into the ground to see this game, we played Man Utd last year without them here – the players will be rocking on Sunday, it’s the one game I know they’ve been buzzing for.

“I think it gives the whole city, the whole club a lift [to win] and after the match last weekend, it’s a good game for us to go in because we know the crowd’s going to be behind us, 100 per cent. The place is going to be rocking, and it’s a great chance for us.”

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