The Whites are manager-less and set to lock horns with Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United at Old Trafford tonight in the Premier League.
Leeds have not beaten Manchester United since an FA Cup third-round victory at Old Trafford in 2010.
Struijk, who has played against the Red Devils four times, believes that the majority of Leeds’ players have participated in a derby at some point in their careers, but he stressed that it is hard to really understand the intensity of the rivalry between Leeds and Manchester United until the players step onto the field.
The Leeds defender also pointed out that it is the responsibility of senior players like him to educate new players so they are properly motivated for the match.
“I think most of the players have played in a derby before, but I do not think they realise how big it is until they step on to the pitch for the first time”, Struijk said on BBC Radio Leeds.
“And I think from that moment on, it builds up every time, so from the time I have been here, every time we play, the whole week.
“Now we have a short period of time, but if we have a longer time leading up to the game, everyone gets excited, gets pumped to really play this game because we are all motivated and really excited to play this game.
“We have to lift the new guys, who obviously know that this is a really big game, they will get the motivation right.”
Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will be in charge of Leeds United tonight and it remains to be seen whether the Whites will be able to appoint a permanent manager before the weekend’s reverse fixture.