Mateusz Klich has suggested that injury was behind the decision to take Pascal Struijk off during the second-half of Leeds United’s defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday – in comments reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Leeds endured an incredibly frustrating afternoon at Elland Road. They conceded an early goal. And despite dominating possession, they were unable to create many openings during the remaining 85 minutes.
For Struijk, it appeared to be a tough time. The 21-year-old moved back into a defensive midfield role. Unfortunately, he was unable to stamp his authority on the game.
So it may have come as little surprise to many when his number came up as Marcelo Bielsa made his first substitution eight minutes into the second-half.
However, following the game, Klich suggested that the change was not entirely tactical.
“We brought on some offensive players to try to change the game,” he said, as reported by Yorkshire Evening Post.
“Unfortunately Pascal had to go off because he was injured, which meant I moved back a little bit to play as a defensive midfielder. We tried, it didn’t work this time.”
It would be a big blow if Struijk has sustained an injury. He had been outstanding at centre-back. And it appeared that the likes of Diego Llorente and Robin Koch may have to bide their time to get back into the team.
Llorente has started the last two games along with Struijk. So it is premature to suggest that the Spain international had jumped ahead of his teammate in the pecking order.
But he was impressive against Villa. And with Struijk now potentially dealing with an injury, Llorente stands every chance of keeping his place for West Ham.
Meanwhile, Koch looks to be edging closer to a return to the fold after a few months out. And while the smart money is currently on Struijk being fit sooner, if the pair find themselves together on the bench, Koch may well end up pushing him down to fourth choice.