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Pascal Struijk has big opportunity amid recent Leeds injury blow

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch must turn to Pascal Struijk if skipper Liam Cooper misses the trip to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

What’s the latest?

The 30-year-old centre-back missed a large chunk of the season with a hamstring problem and was forced to withdraw from the starting lineup against Manchester City last weekend.

“So first, Liam had a weird feeling in his knee and warm up after making a pass. Nobody’s really sure exactly what it is and he will need a scan. We’re hopeful, hopeful that it’s not a major issue, but we will see,” Marsch revealed after the game (via LeedsLive).

Cooper is currently ruled out of this weekend’s encounter by the Premier League Injuries website, run by Sky Sports injury expert Ben Dinnery.

Pascal can strike

The Scotsman’s return to the side coincided with an upturn in form, prior to their 4-0 defeat to the defending champions. He earned SofaScore ratings of 7.1 (vs Southampton), 7.6 (vs Watford) and 7.6 (vs Crystal Palace) in the three games before upon his comeback.

This is something emphasised by ex-Whites goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who told MOT Leeds News:

“You only have to look at when Cooper’s come back into the team when he and Kalvin Phillips kept two clean sheets. It’s not just his performances that are good but his leadership qualities are as well both on and off the field.”

If Cooper is absent again, Marsch is left in a tricky spot against an in-form Gunners side fighting for a top-four finish. However, it could be the perfect opportunity for Pascal Struijk to stake a claim heading into next season.

The 22-year-old seems like the best of the available options and the Whites will need to be cautious knowing that they are merely two points above Everton, who hold a game in hand heading into this weekend.

The 6 foot 3 titan is seen as something of a future star in west Yorkshire.

“He’s going to become a supreme centre-back,” once claimed LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross.

He’s [Bielsa] worked with so many players in world football, and for him to say the things he’s saying about Pascal, it’s very, very exciting. Defenders don’t always get a very exciting press. It’s all about Raphinha, it’s all about Joe Gelhardt. But Pascal is the future. 

“And the longer he stays under the radar, the better, because he’s got the lot, to be honest.”

In terms of passing output, there isn’t a clearer option than Struijk, who averages a squad-high 85.5% accuracy rate, whilst none of the other Leeds centre-backs have averaged more tackles per game either (2.2), as per WhoScored.

Also dubbed a “beast” by journalist Joe Urquhart, the Belgium-born colossus is now valued at £18m by CIES Football Observatory, so Leeds have made quite a steal in signing him on a free transfer.

As such, it’s time to give him a prolonged presence in the starting XI, and without the towering Cooper, Struijk can step up and prove his worth to Marsch and the Elland Road faithful.

AND in other news, Leeds eyeing “unbelievable” £20m sensation with 25 G/A, he’s way better than Dan James

Article title: Pascal Struijk has big opportunity amid recent Leeds injury blow

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