This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
Conor Shaughnessy isn’t necessarily a Marcelo Bielsa player. As detailed previously, his inability to pass the ball to a teammate cleanly on a regular basis would hold him back under the Argentine.
On loan at Mansfield, the defensive-minded player has been making great strides and has been playing in both holding midfield and in the back four.
His versatile nature is one aspect of his game that may have lent a helping hand this season if he stayed, but with Leeds now struggling in two significant areas, perhaps Bielsa actually made the wrong call in letting him depart.
Shaughnessy’s passing leaves a lot to be desired but as far as depth and his aerial ability go, he could have been a big helping hand.
Liam Cooper is currently out injured and with him gone, there is a lack of height in the Leeds backline.
Cooper has won the highest number of aerial duels in the side so standing at 6 foot 3, Shaughnessy’s presence could have been put to good use as his replacement.
It’s in terms of set-pieces where his qualities would have aided Leeds’ cause the most.
John Dempster, the current manager at Mansfield, is the one overseeing his process and he’s been hugely impressed. He told Yorkshire Evening Post:
“Conor is a good footballer and a calm, composed character.
“He brings flexibility to the squad and is a good size, so handy at set-pieces both for and against.”
If you consider Leeds are light in defence and struggle from set-plays, would he now not be an ideal candidate to step in for Cooper? Arguably so.
In 2019/20, the Whites have conceded 43% of their goals from free-kicks and corners – a tally that stands at three from a total seven.
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In the early stages of the campaign it’s caused them huge difficulties and that’s hardly surprising considering they lost Pontus Jansson.
The 6 foot 6 defender has been a miss when it’s come to those types of scenarios and instead, Leeds have been left with 5 foot 10 Gaetano Berardi to fill in.
Shaughnessy is less experienced but he’s played for the first team before and if he’s as good at defending set plays as Dempster suggests, there would have been a use for him at Elland Road this term.