On the latest episode of The Blue, White and Yellow podcast, journalist Conor McGilligan has been speaking about all things Leeds United related ahead of their trip to Newcastle United.
One of the main talking points was the Yorkshire club’s appeal against Pascal Struijk’s red card being rejected by the FA for his challenge on Harvey Elliott.
Who would you rather see start for Leeds?
With the defender out for the next three games, the journalist discussed a change he would like to see Marcelo Bielsa make.
However, McGilligan has admitted he would like to see Struijk feature ahead of the Leeds captain when he returns from suspension after coming on as a substitute for Diego Llorente on Sunday before his red card.
Discussing Bielsa’s options at centre-back, McGilligan had the following to say on his hope of seeing Struijk replace Cooper in Bielsa’s defence (9:05):
“I still fully believe that he’s [Struijk] the best centre-back at the club. I absolutely love him, I think he’s fabulous. He came on at the weekend and did all the basics really well, obviously made that last-minute intervention, I believe it was Salah or Mane I can’t remember which one of them. But it was a wonderful interception, world-class.
“And I just really rate him as a central defender. I think Bielsa’s done wonders with him and he sometimes goes under the radar. So I think him being a miss is going to be huge, because I always rely on him coming in and doing that job and I think to be honest JD [Joe Donnohue], when you take a step back, we’re all probably quite surprised that Liam Cooper started over him at the weekend. Liam Cooper’s captain obviously, but it does seem that sooner rather than later there has to be a sort of changing of the guard.”
TIF Thoughts on McGilligan’s comments…
Cooper has been a huge part of Leeds’ success under Bielsa with 106 appearances under the Argentine manager across all competitions (via Transfermarkt).
Struijk has become a more prominent member of the team over the past few seasons, having made 27 appearances in the Premier League last season alone (via Transfermarkt).
The 30-year-old Cooper currently wears the captain’s armband so it is a big call from McGilligan to suggest Bielsa should consider dropping his captain for a 22-year-old. Although Struijk has featured in all of Leeds’ Premier League games this season, perhaps a change at the back is needed and maybe that could come in the form of Struijk replacing the Leeds captain on a more permanent basis.