Former Leeds star Michael Brown feels Pascal Struijk’s performance against Burnley may have been a pivotal moment in his fledgling career.
Struijk, 21, played the full 90 minutes as Patrick Bamford’s fifth-minute penalty gave the Whites all three points on Sunday. The Dutchman was making his fifth Premier League start of the campaign against the Clarets.
Injuries have decimated the Leeds rearguard, with Luke Ayling and Kalvin Phillips also used as part of a three-man central defence. Diego Llorente and Robin Koch are still injured and so Marcelo Bielsa has to make the best of those available.
It was a tough examination for Struijk, with Burnley’s physical style a handful for the most experienced stoppers. They were up against it for long periods as the Turf Moor outfit forced 12 corners during the 90 minutes.
Brown was impressed and feels Struijk has grown as a player for the experience.
“He played a couple of games recently and it’s just not gone for him,” he told Football Insider. “But it’s tough for him to go and sit in there and he’s done really well.
“You’re talking about a Burnley side who play better than anyone gives them credit for.”
And the ex-Peacocks midfielder believes the former Ajax youth player was instrumental in earning the three points.
“When you’re up against Wood and Barnes, it is a challenge. And Burnley played really well,” he added. “But Leeds kept a clean sheet. It’s amazing to do that, and Struijk played a big part in that.”
No let up for youngster
Leeds have taken six points from their past three games to sit 12th in the standings. Victory over Sean Dyche’s men helped erase the memory of a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United.
That came after Bielsa’s side had downed Newcastle 5-2 in what has been a topsy-turvy season to date.
The fixtures are coming thick and fast, with a trip to face West Brom on Tuesday night next on the agenda. Struijk looks set to get the nod after praise from his manager.
Speaking to Leeds Live, the Argentinian said he was “very influential and contributed a lot to our defensive stability in the middle.”
Sam Allardyce is now in charge of the Baggies and will doubtless make them hard to beat. He began with a 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa but managed a creditable 1-1 draw against Liverpool last time out.
The West Midlanders have won just one league game all season and are down in 19th spot – five points from safety.
READ MORE: Leeds face Inter competition for star