By Noel Whelan

5th Apr, 2021 | 1:18pm

Whelan: Thorp Arch reveal explains why Struijk was axed by Leeds

Noel Whelan has revealed he feels sorry for Pascal Struijk after he was axed by Leeds United in favour of Liam Cooper.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan delivered his verdict after Bielsa explained why the 21-year-old defender was omitted for the 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

He told Leeds Live: “Pascal played very well against Chelsea and Fulham but in the training this week I saw that Cooper was at his best.”

Struijk had impressed partnered alongide Diego Llorente in Leeds’ 0-0 draw with Chelsea and 2-1 win over Fulham.

Cooper missed those fixtures through illness but returned to the lineup for the Yorkshire derby at Elland Road.

Whelan sympathised with Struijk but claimed that Bielsa’s selection was ultimately justified.

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“I do feel sorry for Struijk,” he told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong. Even Marcelo Bielsa’s come out and said that the two of them were excellent together for the Chelsea and Fulham games.

“But he was just more impressed with the way Cooper has been in training over the last week.

“I understand from one point of view because he’s the club captain and he’s not really done too much wrong this season when he’s been in there.

“But at the same time, you’re coming off the back of two very good results against a very good Chelsea outfit and another away from home against Fulham. As a player, you would expect to be in the starting XI for the next game.

“So it’s a bit harsh but it paid off.”

Struijk joined Leeds as an acadmey player in 2018.

He has gone on to make 26 senior apperances for the club.

In other news, Leeds United hit with whopping £33.5million bill.