Pascal Struijk in danger of devastating double-snub with Leeds United and Netherlands
Pascal Struijk has been the surprise package of the Leeds United season so far as a makeshift left-back but could be set for a devastating blow on two fronts.
The Whites neglected to add to the squad at the position in the summer, leaving the job nominally in the hands of former Barcelona man Junior Firpo, despite a difficult first year at the club last season.
But when the 26-year-old was ruled out with an injury before the campaign began the role was handed to Struijk, whose preferred position is in the centre.
He has grown into the role despite the team’s overall form dipping after a good start, and was included in Louis van Gaal’s provisional Netherlands squad for the Nations League games in September off the back of his performances.
And that has put him in contention to go to the World Cup with the national team if he continued his strong form.
He didn’t end up in the squad for either of those games but he had clearly arrived on the radar of the former Manchester United boss, and will be harbouring hopes of impressing him in the coming weeks.
However, Jesse Marsch revealed in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday [Leeds Live] that the versatile defender has picked up an injury knock and will not be available to face Leicester on Thursday (20 October).
That has given Firpo the opening he was waiting for and the chance to finally start, meaning if he performs well or if Struijk isn’t fit to feature again at the weekend the the switch may become long-term, since the summer signing a year ago is the only specialist at the position.
In addition Voetbal Primeur (20 October) have now played down Struijk’s chances of being included as a back-up for Nathan Ake in the Dutch squad for Qatar.
He still has time to keep his place at Elland Road and make a push to gain one on the plane, but some bad luck in the injury department has come at a very inopportune point of the season.
Fans would love to see the investment in Firpo come good at long last, but Struijk could perhaps be forgiven for hoping the man who he substituted for doesn’t do too well with his chance back in the starting XI.
The younger of the two is unlikely to be jettisoned from the squad entirely once he is back fit, but given the hierarchy clearly expected to let Firpo hold down that position Struijk could be pushed back into a more crowded competition in the middle, which in turn may well put an end to any World Cup dreams.
In other Leeds United news, one “desperate” star is a long way off the level he needs to be according to a former White.