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Leeds must unleash Pascal Struijk even after Liam Cooper’s return from suspension

With Liam Cooper closing in on his return to first-team action following suspension, Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa will undoubtedly look to bring his club captain back into the fold.

The skipper received his marching orders in that historic 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad, and will serve the final game of his three-match suspension against Brighton this weekend.

In his absence, Bielsa has opted to go with a centre-back partnership of Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk, and the duo have been impressive in ensuring the Whites picked up big results against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.

Should Struijk keep his place when Cooper comes back?





But while Cooper will be expecting to reclaim his place in the back-line, and Llorente is beginning to get a run of games under his belt following his summer arrival, the £25k-a-week earning Struijk must simply be in the team.

The £6.3m-rated powerhouse has been a massive presence at the back, and Noel Whelan has made it clear just how much he has impressed.

He said: “I thought he was phenomenal at the back. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this kid. He went through a stage of playing in Kalvin’s role but that was the wrong choice by Bielsa for me. He is a centre-half all day long. You can see him growing in that position.

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“Even before Cooper came back into the side those two had a really good relationship going. It looks like they have picked up where they left off. Pascal Struijk has taken his opportunity whenever it has been given to him. It is very difficult to drop him when he plays like that against a really strong Man United front three.”

Former Leeds ace Dominic Matteo is also a big fan of him, saying: “He reads the game a lot better than he’s credited for. He’ll get even better too. Struijk is one to look out for.

“There’s plenty of work to be done but, with the size of him, his physicality, his passing, he’s got it all and can step into midfield. He looks very calm on the ball, players who are a bit erratic are not for me but he looks comfortable in possession.”

So while Cooper is set to return to the squad after the clash against the Seagulls, Bielsa must continue to unleash his 21-year-old starlet, who just appears to be getting better game by game.

Meanwhile, Leeds could finally wave goodbye to this £9m-rated “massive flop”…

Article title: Leeds must unleash Pascal Struijk even after Liam Cooper’s return from suspension

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