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Struijk and Davis receive new squad numbers ahead of potential breakthrough campaign

No other youngsters received a change in squad number, while summer signing Joe Gelhardt has been handed number 30.

Derby County v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Derby County’s Wayne Rooney challenges Pascal Struijk during Leeds United’s 3-1 victory over the Rams at Pride Park on July 19, 2020.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Leeds United have released their squad numbers for the 2020/21 Premier League season, and while there are no surprise changes involving first team regulars, Pascal Struijk and Leif Davis have received upgrades.

Struijk, who wore number 34 last season and has previously worn number 50, will boast the number 21 shirt this season, while Davis is moved from 40 to 24.

Eccentric attacking midfielder Samuel Saiz was the last Leeds player to wear number 21, while number 24 was left available following winger Hadi Sacko’s departure.

Leeds United v Stoke City - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Elland Road
Leif Davis heads goalwards during Leeds United’s Carabao Cup second round clash with Stoke City on August 27, 2019.
Photo by Richard Sellers/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

The likes of Robbie Gotts (36), Mateusz Bogusz (44), Jamie Shackleton (46), Jordan Stevens (48) and Oliver Casey (49) have retained their shirt numbers for the upcoming campaign.

Therefore, the minor changes involving Struijk and Davis could hint at the more important role the duo might play in Marcelo Bielsa’s side.

As Leeds United’s hunt for a new centre-back reaches its climax, it appears likely that the Whites will only pursue one central-defensive addition during the transfer window, which would highlight Bielsa’s tendency to utilise a small playing squad and rely on youth players to provide depth.

Leeds United v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
Pascal Struijk impressed in central-defensive midfield as Leeds United drew their Championship campaign to a close against Charlton on July 22, 2020.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Dutch centre-back Struijk seems ready-made for this role, having already showcased his technical abilities in holding midfield in the final matches of last season.

The 21-year-old convinced supporters with his passing range, making him a viable ball-playing option in central-defence as well as a backup for Kalvin Phillips, while his towering stature offers Leeds much-needed height that they lost when Pontus Jansson left the club last summer.

Former Morecambe defender Davis, meanwhile, also provides depth at centre-back, as well as his natural position at left-back, having been converted by now-Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan.

Despite reported interest from EFL outfits Stoke City and Portsmouth suggesting that Davis could be set for a loan spell during the 20/21 campaign, it would not be overly surprising if the 20-year-old stuck around, particularly if Barry Douglas’ rumoured move to Scottish giants Celtic comes to fruition.

With Stuart Dallas holding down the left-back position and Ezgjan Alioski featuring more regularly as a winger, Davis could inherit a more important role for the Whites in the Premier League.

He is well suited to Bielsa’s playing style, thanks to his attacking tendencies and blistering pace. While he lacks the height ideal for a central-defensive role, he also seems capable enough of using his developing passing ability to his advantage should Leeds suffer a shortage of options.

The pair made a combined ten appearances across all competitions for the Peacocks last season, and with a maximum of five reinforcements expected through the doors at Elland Road this transfer window, expect to see the likes of Struijk and Davis feature on the team-sheet in the Premier League.