Leeds United reach Pascal Struijk surgery deadline as potential season-ending decision set for reveal

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Leeds United have reached Daniel Farke's 10-day cut-off and are set to make a final decision on whether centre-back Pascal Struijk requires season-ending surgery to mend a cartilage problem.

The Dutch defender has spent the past three months sidelined with a hip issue which was initially believed to be minor, but has manifested into something more problematic. Struijk has visited specialists and undergone a course of injection therapy to remedy the issue, after which some progress has been made, however after a prolonged period out of contention, the option of corrective surgery has come to the fore as a potential and definitive solution.

"I think the next ten days will be decisive," Farke said on March 15, before Leeds' victory over Millwall. "It's a bit complicated situation with him. To simplify it or to sum it up, he's got a fibrocartilage injury and there are always two ways to treat this injury: either you go for a surgery, but if we would have done this it would have meant he's out for the whole season.

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"Or you go [down] a conservative route and the doctors recommended conservative route, to go for injection therapy and they were quite hopeful that this would be beneficial."

Struijk's last appearance came in the 2-1 Boxing Day defeat to Preston North End, in which the stand-in skipper scored from the penalty spot. Since then, Ethan Ampadu has largely featured alongside Joe Rodon in central defence, taking the captain's armband, and presided over an excellent defensive record. United are yet to concede from open play in the Championship during 2024 and have allowed just three goals since the turn of the year - the Wales international pair ever-presents at the heart of Farke's defence.

While there is no guarantee both remain fit for the duration of the season, Leeds are well-stocked at centre-half with Ampadu as a bona fide first-choice in that position. Charlie Cresswell and Liam Cooper are also available should Farke need to call on his reserve options. The way Leeds have mitigated for Struijk's absence over a prolonged stretch suggests they could cope without him for the remainder of 2023/24, whilst simultaneously fixing the troublesome injury once and for all.

"The cartilage needs some healing and it has progressed really well, but the last five per cent are missing. So, in the next ten days we'll be decisive to say, either he is on the other side of the international break back in training and is capable to handle the load, then we have him back for the run-in.

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"Or we have to go the other way and to have to go for surgery and then he's out for the whole season, but at least we'll have him back for pre-season, to be ready for the new season."

Farke will reveal the decision which has been taken with regard to Struijk's situation during this week's pre-match press conference ahead of Leeds' visit to Watford on Good Friday. Needless to say, the Dutchman is unavailable for the trip to Vicarage Road and even if progress has been made with the conservative route, Struijk's return to the pitch will not be immediate, due to the length of his absence to date.

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