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STRUIJK-LESS: Leeds United defender banned for Newcastle trip

Marcelo Bielsa has called on the FA for guidance on why it upheld the dismissal of Pascal Struijk in last Sunday’s home defeat to Liverpool.

Struijk was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Harvey Elliott, which left the Liverpool teenager with a fracture dislocation of his left ankle.

Leeds lost their appeal against the three-game ban handed to Struijk, but many observers, including Elliott himself, agreed the defender’s tackle did not warrant a sending off and that the injury had been a freak occurrence.

Bielsa said: “The majority of the plays that are similar to this one don’t generate the consequences this one generated. That’s why the injured player admits there was no bad intention.

“I understand those that judge and decide have different arguments to the ones I’ve spoken about, and the ones the injured player has spoken about, and their arguments are the ones that decide the outcome.

“It’s good that it’s this way. What would be useful is to receive information which gave an explanation how to avoid these casual things from generating an injury.”

Bielsa added: “We should be guided by the thoughts of those who decide (the authorities), not by me. To hope to receive an explanation is perhaps excessive, but it would help to improve the decision-making of the players.”

The suspension of Struijk has left Bielsa seriously short of centre-backs for Friday night’s Premier League game at Newcastle, with Diego Llorente and Robin Koch also unavailable.

Llorente was forced out of Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool at Elland Road due to a muscle strain, while Koch has not recovered from a pubis injury which has ruled him out since the opening-day defeat at Manchester United.

“Of the four centre-backs that we have, we are not able to count on Diego, Pascal or Koch, but we’re in conditions to resolve the issue,” Bielsa said.

The Argentinian confirmed midfielder Adam Forshaw (muscle strain) is expected to return to contention for next week’s home league game against West Ham.

Leeds and Friday night’s opponents Newcastle will both be chasing their first league win of the season at St James’ Park.

But while Bielsa continues to enjoy the adoration of Leeds fans after leading the club back to the top flight, the pressure has cranked up again on under-fire Newcastle boss Steve Bruce.

Bruce was jeered by Magpies fans during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford and Bielsa expressed his sympathy for his opposite number.

“I always feel saddened when this happens to a manager and their own fans go against them,” Bielsa said. “It’s one of the worst feelings that a manager can have.”


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