Since Marcelo Bielsa took over, Leeds United’s under-23 side has been his main source of new players – trusting the club’s academy and youngsters instead of spending big in the market. Another example might be breaking through.
Bielsa has brought the likes of Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke, Matuesz Bogusz, Robbie Gotts and more through the academy into the first team – while Aapo Halme and Clarke Odour were sold in the summer.
The Whites’ second string suffered a 2-1 defeat to Hull City on Friday afternoon at the KCOM Stadium. The likes of Luke Ayling, Jack Clarke, Ryan Edmondson and Leif Davis all played as Carlos Corberan’s side could not add to Olly Casey’s goal.
However, another of Leeds’ excellent set-up in the form of Pascal Struijk was missing on Friday. The Dutch defender has been superb for Corberan’s side since Bielsa took over, and with a lack of cover at centre-back, he is close to making his debut.
Last season, the 20-year-old was a surprise inclusion in the 18-man squad in the play-off semi-finals and remained an unused substitute as Leeds lost to Derby. This time around, he has only been on the bench once – the 3-0 win over Stoke.
Struijk has been a regular in the Under-23 side but he was missing from Friday’s defeat, so surely his omission from Corberan’s side means he is expecting to be involved on Saturday as the Whites take on Derby County again, at Elland Road.
The commanding centre-back, who joined from Ajax in January 2018, has certainly been one of the best and most reliable performers in the second team over the last 12 months – and he certainly deserves a chance in the senior side.
With Struijk not being involved with the second team, he could be part of the 18 that will look to keep Leeds at the top of the table.