Mills cites Ben White as he details why Struijk may not play for Leeds again this season
Danny Mills has claimed Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente alongside each other for Leeds United for the remaining eight Premier League games of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Whites and England defender claimed Cooper’s experience gives him the edge over Pascal Struijk in Marcelo Bielsa’s mind.
Struijk had formed a good partnership with Llorente before Cooper returned to the starting XI against Sheffield United last weekend.
The Dutchman recorded eight interceptions and won 17 of his 26 duels in Leeds’ 2-1 win with Fulham before he was axed for the visit of the Blades, according to Wyscout.
Bielsa explained to Leeds Live after the game Cooper got the nod because he returned to training after an illness at the top of his game.
Asked whether Cooper and Llorente would now be Bielsa’s preferred centre-back pairing, Mills told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “There are only eight games left. There’s not many to go and he may not change it.
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“It’s just that little bit of extra experience that Liam Cooper has. We’ve seen it time and time again, you need that at centre-half. It’s one of the most important positions on the pitch.
“As much as young players can be good like Ben White was in that position, it was probably because he had that steadying hand of Liam Cooper in beside him.
“You have to have that mix of it. Centre-half is a very important position and I think experience comes first in that position.”
Struijk started just two Championship games last season but has emerged as a regular this campaign.
He has featured in 19 of the Whites’ 30 Premier League games this season, including 17 starts.