Noel Whelan has responded to reports that Belgium and Roberto Martinez are looking to convince Leeds United defender Pasca Struijk to choose them as his national team – despite earning caps for Netherlands’ Under-17 side.
Struijk, 21, clocked up his 20th appearance in all competitions for Leeds on Monday night – combining with Liam Cooper to secure the club’s first clean sheet of 2021 with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford scored.
With Diego Llorente and Robin Koch injured, Struijk has taken advantage and while Marcelo Bielsa would prefer a right-footed centre-back alongside left-footed Cooper or Struijk, the duo have combined with aplomb in recent matches.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf has reported that a tug-of-war is beginning to emerge between Belgium and The Netherlands for Struijk. He was born in Belgium but played for Holland at youth level. It is claimed a phone call has been made by Martinez.
Whelan gave his verdict on BBC Radio Leeds: “Someone has seen something in the kid and it is a manager that has been around for quite a long time, in Roberto Martinez – he knows what he is doing. He’s obviously seen a real talent in him.
“Credit goes to the club to get him to this stage. But hey, let’s not take anything away from him – he’s on the verge of playing for the number one team in the world in Belgium. We should be happy, we have another international centre-half.”