Ex-Leeds United favourite lays down challenge to Junior Firpo after Whites development

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Former Whites favourite David Prutton has made an exciting prediction about Leeds United defender Pascal Struijk and outlined the next challenge to Struijk's team mate Junior Firpo.

Leeds spent 15m euros to sign Firpo from Barcelona last summer as the Whites looked for a new first choice left back following Gjanni Alioski's exit and eventual switch to Al-Ahli.

Firpo made 24 PremIer League appearances in his first season at Leeds but only 19 starts as part of a campaign disrupted by Covid, injury niggles and patchy form.

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The 26-year-old then impressed in the early stages of this summer's pre-season friendly against Blackpool but the left back suffered a pelvic tendon injury in the fixture which led to another absence.

CHALLENGE: To Junior Firpo, above. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.CHALLENGE: To Junior Firpo, above. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
CHALLENGE: To Junior Firpo, above. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

With the versatile Stuart Dallas also injured long term, 23-year-old centre-back Struijk has picked up the mantle as United's current left back and earned himself a first ever call-to to the provisional Netherlands squad for this month's Nations League games.

Struijk did not make boss Louis Van Gaal's final squad but his initial call-up was still a reward for his displays on the left side of the Leeds defence.

Whites boss Jesse Marsch will soon have a decision to make with Firpo now back in full training and bagging 76 minutes for United's under-21s in Friday night's fixture against Southampton's youngsters at Elland Road.

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But the in-form Struijk now stands in Firpo's way which ex-Whites midfielder Prutton says is forming healthy competition that can only benefit Leeds as a whole.

"With Firpo, I don't think it's too remiss to say that Leeds fans are still waiting for that consistent output of quality from him," said Sky Sports presenter Prutton to the YEP.

"I think we have seen that he has got it in him but it's consistency which is what the Premier League is all about.

"The players that kind of knock off 200, 300 or 400 games in the Premier League are not all absolute dribbling superstars that can thread the eye of a needle.

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"They are reliable players and if he is a defender then defend.

"There will be a lot asked with regards to getting forward from that position given how narrow potentially the attack is for Leeds but his next challenge is to knock Struijk out of his position.”

Hailing the progress of Struijk and predicting much more to come, Prutton reasoned: "He could become a Dutch international which is amazing really given what we have seen from him sometimes centre-back.

"That slight tweak (to left back) has brought another level out of the player and hopefully all of this rounds out Pascal's game a little bit more.

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"He is still only 23 and regardless of what age a footballer is, you can always learn new parts, new facets and what is expected of you.

"If he brings the consistency that he has brought to the left back role to centre back then that's a bonus all round."