By Noel Whelan

29th Dec, 2020 | 3:30pm

'Brilliant' - Exclusive: Whelan reacts to early Leeds team news pre-West Brom

Noel Whelan has heaped praise on Leeds United defender Pascal Struijk ahead of tonight’s trip to West Brom.

The former Whites and Coventry striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed fans saw “the best” of the 21-year-old on Sunday in what he described as a “brilliant” performance against Burnley.

Struijk impressed on his fifth start of the Premier League campaignon the left-hand side of a back three.

The young centre-half was chosen to start in the absence of the injured Liam Cooper, Robin Koch, Gaetano Berardi and Diego Llorente.

As quoted by Leeds Live, Marcelo Bielsa revealed in the build up to tonight’s game that Llorente, who is nearing a return from injury, will not be available for the fixture.

Struijk is expected to retain his place in the defence, a selection Whelan is very comfortable with.

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“I think Struijk caught the eye against Burnley,” he told Football Insider.

“I think he had a brilliant game. He was very strong in the air and showed his aggression.

“It was a lot better from him and it helped that he was back in his normal position at centre-half. I think we really saw the best of him against Burnley.

“Everyone in that back three stepped up. I was really pleased because they have been questioned for the defending at set plays. We saw a different side to Leeds on Sunday and Struijk stood out.”  

In other news, Leeds United have been backed to sign Liverpool ‘powerhouse’ in 2021 after an intriguing development on Twitter.