Leeds hit by hammer blow after Bielsa update on Struijk - Whelan
Pascal Struijk’s physicality will be a “big miss” for Leeds United, according to Noel Whelan.
The former Leeds striker and lifelong Whites fan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted the 21-year-old had grown into a “really good” centre-back for Marcelo Bielsa this season.
As quoted by Leeds Live, Bielsa confirmed Struijk would miss Saturday’s clash against Chelsea through injury.
The versatile defender also missed out against West Ham, although the Argentine boss insisted his injury was not serious.
Struijk has already played 17 times in the Premier League this season, mainly due to injuries to more senior players.
However, Whelan insisted he would be missed in his own right due to his physical presence at the back.
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“I would say he was one of the most physical players at Leeds,” Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge.
“He’s probably just behind Liam Cooper when it comes to physicality and that desire about winning a header. They like that duel with a centre-forward or wide-man. He’s grown into a really good player this season.
“Struijk’s probably one player I can say has taken his opportunity and his chance when those spaces were available. He’s got better and better, now he’s getting asked to play for Belgium.
“Roberto Martinez wants him which is absolutely incredible when you think about the quality they have in their international setup.
“He’s a big miss because he allows you to play three at the back with three good size centre-halves. We’re not the best at marking and we’re not the biggest of sides.
“He gives you the option to go back to a three. That gives you that little bit more power and height to defend corners and to attack them.”