Leeds face a defensive crisis after their appeal against Pascal Struijk’s red tackle on Harvey Elliott was dismissed.
FA disciplinary chiefs have upheld referee Craig Pawson’s decision to fire Struijk for using excessive force in the challenge, forcing the Liverpool teenager to undergo surgery on a dislocated left ankle.
The FA refused to reverse the red card, despite Elliott’s support for Struijk and he sympathized with the center-half on social media.
Elliott, who is facing months after his surgery on Tuesday, posted an elegant message to Struijk on Instagram saying, “Sorry about that Pascal.
“I think it’s wrong, but it’s going to explode soon brother and you’ll be back in no time to break it again.” Stay positive. “
Instagram / Harvey Elliott)
Struijk is suspended for three games, starting with Leeds’ trip to Newcastle on Friday night, to compound their selection problems at center.
Diego Llorente was injured in the 3-0 loss to Liverpool on Sunday to join Robin Koch in the treatment room, leaving skipper Liam Cooper as Leeds’ only recognized senior center-half.
Boss Marcelo Bielsa is expected to move Luke Ayling in front of the right-back and he played deep in defense last season when Leeds last suffered an injury crisis.
Leeds need three points on Tyneside and they haven’t won any of their first four top-level games for the first time since 1958.
They have conceded 11 goals in those four games and have yet to take the lead.
Ayling says they need to improve on both fronts at St James’ Park.
“We have to tighten up a bit at the back and score that first goal in a game because we know how good we are when we do that,” he said.
POOL / AFP via Getty Images)
“So we tried to correct that and now we want to come back flying.”
Leeds were expected to start better as they finished ninth last season in their first Premier League return campaign in 16 years.
Ayling says they must forget about this achievement because it matters little now.
“I think ninth last season, we have to park it and start over.”