By Craig Scott

15th Sep, 2021 | 6:49am

Tony Dorigo: Pascal Struijk suspension would be harsh for Leeds United

Tony Dorigo wants to see Harvey Elliott return from his serious ankle injury as soon as possible but is also sympathetic towards Pascal Struijk after the Leeds United ace’s red card on Sunday.

Struijk, 21, was shown a straight red card after a rather innocuous-looking challenge led to Elliott, 18, suffering a horrific injury that has resulted in him undergoing surgery.

Leeds have appealed against Struijk’s three-match ban and BT Sport pundit Dorigo has been supportive of the defender, adding that Virgil van Dijk was also mindful of him on Sunday.

“To see something like that was absolutely awful. I could see the angle of the foot was all wrong,” Dorigo told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“He very quickly got the best help possible, but it’s awful for him and for Struijk as well.

“I was pleased to see a bit of class from Virgil van Dijk, who came and had a word with Struijk.

“I’m sure that helped because he didn’t mean it, everyone understands that.”

He added: “He’s been exceptional and that is part of his game, winning the ball, so he was just doing what he’s trained to do but on this occasion the outcome was shocking and something no one wanted to see.

“A suspension would be harsh, too and not just for Struijk but his club.”

Struijk shouldn’t be banned

Craig Pawson’s refereeing wasn’t great in this incident on Sunday.

He saw Struijk’s challenge on Elliott where he won the ball and allowed play to continue for several seconds until he noticed Mohamed Salah screaming about Elliott’s injury.

It was absolutely the right thing to do to stop play but to go back and send Struijk off simply for seeing the extent of the injury is wrong.

It’s reactive refereeing, rather than proactive.

On Monday night, Burnley defender James Tarkowski went in two-footed on Everton’s Richarlison. His challenge was dangerous and reckless and didn’t even result in a booking.

If referees are allowing challenges like that go, there’ll be more injuries appearing in the Premier League whereas the one by Struijk on Elliott was a freak accident that can, unfortunately, sometimes happen on the pitch.

Heung-min Son was sent off in a similar fashion in 2019 when an innocuous challenge by him saw Everton’s Andre Gomes left with a dislocated and broken ankle.

Son’s red was rescinded in the end and we hope the same happens here.

In other Leeds United news, Daniel James has sent a message online to Elliott.