Blackpool FC: Former Leeds United star performing ‘beyond his years’ after ‘tough’ experience

Jordan Rhodes scored a late equaliser for Blackpool (Photographer Andrew Kearns/CameraSport)Jordan Rhodes scored a late equaliser for Blackpool (Photographer Andrew Kearns/CameraSport)
Jordan Rhodes scored a late equaliser for Blackpool (Photographer Andrew Kearns/CameraSport)
He returned to Bloomfield Road this summer alongside Neil Critchley, and has displaced a fan favourite from the Blackpool starting 11.

Blackpool manager Neil Critchley believes Oliver Casey is repeaing the rewards of his patience after breaking into the team.

The 23-year-old has forced his way into the Tangerines starting 11 over recent weeks, and has started 13 of the 14 League One matches Blackpool have played so far in the current campaign.

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He returned to Bloomfield Road this summer after a beneficial loan spell at Forest Green Rovers, in which he played 44 times. Casey suffered relegation with the Gloucestershire outfit but had a full season's experience in the third tier and has is now living up to his potential having joined in June 2021.

“He’s been excellent and fantastic,” said Critchley.

“I think he’s benefited hugely from going out on loan and playing regular football last season at Forest Green. It was a tough season for him but that actually could have been a good thing for him. He was having to defend a lot and he’s come on from that experience massively.

“He’s had to be patient and wait for his chance here even at the beginning of this season but since he’s come into the team he has been brilliant. He’s really stepped up and he’s looking mature. He’s performing well beyond his years at the moment.”

Casey returned to Lancashire this summer with a spring in his step, and whilst it is a team game, he has displaced the influential Marvin Ekpiteta from the side. Ekpiteta was Blackpool's 2021/22 Player of the Year, but he has been limited the Blackpool centurion to just five league appearances.

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Critchley, into his second spell with the club has seen a notable difference from the player that was signed in the summer of 2021. He was signed from Leeds United on a three-year deal for undisclosed fee which expires thiss ummer, and he was just 20-years-old at the time.

Casey had three senior apparances to his name at the Whites when he arrived at Blackpool, and was thrown in to the deep end in the Championship, where he appeared six times. He recently reached the landmark of 50 appearances in League One, and looks to be developing into an important player under his manager.

“He definitely took a step forward from the last time I was here,” added Critchley

“When he came here in my first spell we were in the Championship and we knew he would take a little bit of time. There’s not that many young centre-backs playing every single week so we knew he might have to go on a bit of a journey to get where he has got to.

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“I think at 22-23 he’s still a good age, and definitely when I came back in the building it was obvious he took a step forward in his development. He was patient at the start of the season and we had a conversation, he got in the team and he’s been excellent.”

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