When Luke Ayling dropped out in the 75th minute against West Brom on Elland Road, his eleventh season began as a professional footballer.

This 15-minute cameo made his appearance in the 355th Football League and his first competitive game since defeat in the play-off semi-final against Derby in May.

For the 28-year-old, now older enough to claim the title of veteran, there were a few butterflies in the midst of the excitement.

"I just could not wait to get out," he said.

"I knew I would be on the bench and thought I could get in.

"It's the kind of game where you know it's getting tight. So if we win, I have to keep the game, or if we are looking for a goal, I have to choose another option.

"I was told to warm up the whole first half, the whole halftime, and then I got on. There were a few nerves.

"The boys had been fine, I did not want to come to them and spoil them or anything.

"The morning of [the match]It felt like the first game of the season for me – the first game of each season where you have a few nerves.

"It felt like I was in the West Brom game, a bit nervous, but when I got my first touch, I was fine."

It was followed by a trip to Millwall, an afternoon that was sufficiently strenuous before Gaetano Berardi's 14th-minute red card brought Leeds up to 10 men and Ayling for a full 90 minutes.

He moved into the center of the defense alongside Ben White from the right-back, except for the result, and was surprised how well his body handled it.

"It was a tough game to be there from the start, and then we dropped to 10 men, but I went into the middle half and it's not as physical as in the right half."

"My numbers were still high, I had to walk around a lot. We had a lot of ball but there was still a lot of backlog for me and Ben [White] deal with it.

"I have never cramped, which is quite unusual for your first return leg. I felt good until the end. "

Ayling is honest enough to admit that he needs to be careful and take care of the knuckle under the knife, but he can not afford it to affect his mental approach to physical competition.

"Every now and then, like now, I know I can not put as much pressure on myself as I want in the future, or play through things I should not," he said.

"As soon as I cross that white line, I'm ready to go in. I go out there and know I'm fit.

"I'm sure if you asked every footballer if he's 100 percent involved in every game, I doubt very much that someone will join in without a hitch."

"I can not let it play in my head.

"The moment I think about my ankle or retire from a tackle, you get hurt even worse."

The international break provided an opportunity to advance his conditioning.

Marcelo Bielsa's United have a hard time at Thorp Arch preparing for another series of championship games, starting with Birmingham City.

"It's hard work here, really hard work, there's no end for us.

"Many teams would be away and rest, which they think is right. Our gaffer thinks that it is best for us to work hard while the other boys play abroad.

"Every day we play games in training, big and small games, and try to work on things that we think will help later in the season."

"It's a tough week, we have a day off weekend to spend with our families, we'll be back next week, and we'll be able to play a few games until the next one."

"We seek a fresh start when we get back."