This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
Pascal Struijk has been one of the names mentioned that could play in place of Liam Cooper while the skipper sits out with an injury problem.
The 20-year-old Dutchman has seemingly risen up the pecking order at Leeds but he isn’t the only one competing for a place in the defence.
Cooper’s replacement on Tuesday, Gaetano Berardi, will also be in the frame but there could be a route back into the side in that role for Luke Ayling.
The three aforementioned names all make sense in one way or another. Berardi offered a cause for hope among some bad news on Tuesday while Ayling has played in that role before.
However, a surprise name was among those muttered by Marcelo Bielsa in his pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of their clash with Millwall.
That happened to be teenager Olly Casey, one of the defenders who has been featuring for Carlos Corberan’s U23 side in 2019/20.
A centre-back by trade, he’s clearly been impressing if Bielsa sees him as someone that could challenge for a spot in the very immediate future.
Another defender in Charlie Cresswell has recently signed a new deal and is someone we think could go onto have a big role to play in the team, but it appears as though Casey is slightly ahead of him in terms of development.
At 18, he is still incredibly young and it would be quite the statement to throw him in but it bodes well for the youngster regardless. This is certainly a huge boost for someone who won the Apprentice of the Year award at Leeds last term.
On those who could come in, Bielsa noted: “Casey and Struijk are younger. Davis has played with us. Phillips is an option in this sector. Of course, Berardi is the direct substitution.”
Before this comment was made, Casey didn’t even have a squad number with the senior side so it’s rather come out of nowhere, even if he did play for the first team in pre-season.
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It remains to be seen who replaces the Scot but this isn’t the first time the aforementioned teen, who doesn’t turn 19 until later this month, has been on the end of rather surprising news.
In November 2018 he was handed professional terms, something that left him shocked.
He said at the time: “I still watch the first team games every week, I love it, my dad has been bringing me to games since I was young. When I first found out about getting a pro deal I was shocked as you usually find out a bit later in the year.”
Being a fan of the club, Casey must be ecstatic that he’s simply been muttered in the same breath as someone like Kalvin Phillips.
It’s now time for him to build on that and start making Bielsa think very strongly about whether to include him in the first XI.