By Noel Whelan

30th Jul, 2022 | 8:56pm

Leeds United employee shares Pascal Struijk claim after early team news

Noel Whelan has backed Pascal Struijk to deputise at left-back for Leeds United with Junior Firpo set to miss the start of the season.

The former Whites striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 22-year-old is more familiar with the role than any other option at Jesse Marsch’s disposal.

Firpo is Leeds United’s only senior left-back at present after Leif Davis departed Elland Road for League One side Ipswich Town earlier this month.

However, The Athletic revealed on 13 July that the Spaniard will miss the start of the Premier League season after picking up an injury during the pre-season win over Blackpool.

Leo Hjelde and Jack Harrison have also featured in the role as Marsch builds up to the season opener against Wolves on 6 August.

Struijk has made five senior appearances at left-back – all of which came during the 2021-22 season.

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Whelan suggested the Dutchman’s 6ft 3in frame could be “invaluable” against Wolves.

“I think we’ve seen more of Struijk playing that position than anyone else,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“He’s a natural left-footer. He can get up and down, and he gives that extra height as well. He’s familiar with the role.

“That’d allow Cooper to be in the heart of that defence.

“I’d go with Struijk at left-back just because of what he offers you.

“Yes, he’s not quite a natural going forward, but he’s got experience in the position.

“His height could be invaluable in both boxes against Wolves.”

In other news, pundit backs Leeds United to complete striker signing amid Patrick Bamford warning.