Pascal Struijk feeling more comfortable and targeting Leeds United revenge against Crystal Palace

DEFENDER Pascal Struijk hopes he can help Leeds United at both ends of the pitch in Monday's revenge mission against Crystal Palace.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 7th February 2021, 11:47 am

Struijk is approaching just his 20th outing in a Leeds shirt in Monday night's clash against the Eagles who recorded a 4-1 triumph against the Whites at Selhurst Park back in November.

In what was only his fourth Premier League start, Struijk was tasked with filling the holding midfield role in the absence of the injured Kalvin Phillips.

But the return of United's Yorkshire Pirlo to full fitness has allowed Struijk to slot back into defence where the 21-year-old admits he is at his most comfortable.

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REVENGE MISSION: For Leeds United and Pascal Struijk, centre, pictured chasing Jordan Ayew in November's 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. Photo by GLYN KIRK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

With nine more games under his belt, the continually learning Struijk now hopes that he and Leeds can settle a score in Monday's 8pm kick-off at Elland Road.

"Obviously we are trying to win, we are trying to win every game," said Struijk in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds.

"And after the 4-1 we are trying to bounce back and trying to get the win."

Assessing being back at centre-back - and if he was better on the left or the right side of the defence - Struijk admitted: "I'm enjoying it. It feels more comfortable for me to play at centre-back as I played there longer so I've been enjoying my time there.

"I'd say left is a bit easier for me, driving the ball and just playing out.

"But to be honest I haven't found it a big problem playing on the right.

"I have to say I feel comfortable with both feet.

"Ever since I was younger I have tried to play with left and right to make sure to get them both equally as good."

Struijk came through another 90 minutes of his latest outing for the Whites on Wednesday evening in the 2-1 loss at home to Everton.

"Obviously we were disappointed because we lost," said Struijk.

"I think the first two goals in the first half killed us but then we worked so hard trying to get back equal again.

"I think we deserved a point at least."

It might have been different had Everton 'keeper Robin Olsen not been in such superb form and Struijk was among those denied.

The defender is yet to score for Leeds but admits he is is very much hoping to chip in with contributions at both ends of the pitch.

"Whenever I see the opportunity to intercept or when I get a clearance, it's not always me that sets up the attack," said Struijk.

"But I think a lot of the times when I do intercept the ball, opponents are out of shape so the play is very open then when we can play through.

"I think on set pieces lately I have been better or definitely more aggressive but that's good as well.

"If we can win those challenges and win maybe sometimes the headers for the goal it's just another way of winning the game."

Reflecting also on his passing and the art of pinging the diagonal ball, Struijk said: "It makes our play unpredictable.

"Sometimes we go short, sometimes we go long, so being able to give the diagonal pass will give the opponent a surprise."

"We train it almost every day.

"I don't know how many times I have given the pass.

"It doesn't always reach the player but still we do it so many times that it's basically just like instinct just to give the pass."

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Thank you Laura Collins