Championship

Leeds United: Noel Whelan tips Pascal Struijk to break into first team this season

Leeds United: Noel Whelan tips Pascal Struijk to break into first team this season

Noel Whelan believes Marcelo Bielsa has big plans for Leeds United youngster Pascal Struijk as the season progresses.

The ex-Leeds United forward spoke exclusively to Football Insider and explained the Dutch centre-back is “highly thought of”.

He’s yet to make an appearance for the Whites since signing from Ajax in January 2018, but Whelan said: “Struijk is highly thought of by Bielsa and his staff.”

“He is one option for the bench. Marcelo Bielsa tends to go for the more experienced players rather than the young ones in defence.

“I would expect to see Luke Ayling move across to centre-back if Ben White or [Gaetano] Berardi were unavailable. But, then you’re looking at Struijk.

“With the inevitable injuries and suspensions over the winter months, I would expect to see Struijk getting a go at some point. It seems Bielsa has big plans for him.”

Whelan makes a good point that Leeds will probably have to call on Strujik at some point this season, considering they must be at their top level every game to finally see through promotion.

Bielsa demands high levels of work-rate from his team and that means there’s more chance of injuries. The squad found that out last year when, by February 19, injured players had already missed a cumulative total of 140 games.

Strujik is a regular for the Under-23s and was handed a new contract just last month, so Whelan’s view that there’s a plan for him has been backed by money.

Football Insider also noted the Leeds manager handed first-team debuts to nine players from the academy last year, and with Liam Cooper already sidelined for up to six weeks with a groin injury, it’s possible the 6ft 3in defender could get his chance.

Leeds fans, who do you think could be the next youngster to establish themselves in the first team?

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