With Leeds United’s mounting injury crisis threatening to derail Marcelo Bielsa’s plans for the season, this may be the opportune time for some of the club’s brightest young academy prospects.
Charlie Cresswell has been one of the stand-out performers for the U23s for the past couple of years now, and he may be one to profit from club captain Liam Cooper’s absence.
Ahead of this weekend’s Premier League game against Chelsea, a statement from the club (via The Athletic) revealed: “Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper also both suffered hamstring injuries in Sunday’s game. Both players have undergone treatment for their injuries and the club’s medical staff will structure the next steps in their recovery.”
While Cresswell may not be thrown straight into the deep end against the Blues, the 6 foot 1 starlet could fancy his chances of breaking into the Leeds first-team sooner rather than later.
Speaking after signing his new contract earlier this year, the centre-back himself said: “I’m confident, I’m a leader, I like to play and I like to head it! There’s lots of players in the first team that I look up to, the likes of Coops, Bill, they lead by example and that is what I want to try and follow.”
Dubbed a “dying breed” for his leadership and communication skills at the back, Leeds U23’s boss Mark Jackson added: “Charlie’s got that, he understands how to lead and we’ve been working with him a long time, in the academy even, when he first broke through in the 18s as a 16-year-old, (working) on his leadership skills.
“Even on the bench in the second half, he’s still talking behind me so that’s a positive because you don’t find many of them these days and we’ve got to try and embrace that, he’s got to try embrace it and develop it as well – and that’s a real positive within his game.”
The 19-year-old has made just the five senior appearances, with three of them coming in the Premier League this season. However, aside from the full 90 minutes that he played against West Ham, his last two outings for Bielsa’s side have been very short cameos.
With Cooper out injured, and Robin Koch still not back to full fitness, Cresswell’s time to shine might well be around the corner.