Good in the air with a reputation for last-ditch tackles: The expert view on Blackpool-linked Leeds United starlet
Blackpool are being strongly linked with a move for Leeds United defender Oliver Casey.
Negotiations are underway regarding a permanent move for the young centre-back, who could become Blackpool’s fourth signing of the summer.It comes after Doncaster Rovers left-back Reece James signed on the dotted line yesterday, penning a three-year deal.That was followed up by moves for Man City goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw and Linfield and Northern Ireland striker Shayne Lavery.It’s been claimed Leeds are willing to let their highly-rated 20-year-old go, despite the versatile defender signing a new three-year contract last summer.
Casey, who can also operate in central midfield, made his senior debut for Leeds off the bench during a game against Huddersfield Town in December 2019.
The defender made two further first-team appearances last season, both coming in cup competitions.
He also turned out for Leeds’ Under-21 side on two occasions in the EFL Trophy, with one of those coming in the 3-0 defeat against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
He has yet to appear for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the Premier League, but he was named on the subs’ bench on nine occasions last season.
Pool boss Neil Critchley is thought to be a big admirer of Casey from his time working in youth football with Liverpool’s Under-23s.
If Casey does make the move to Bloomfield Road, what can Pool fans expect of him?
The Gazette caught up with Joe Urquhart, from our sister paper the Yorkshire Post, who is a regular viewer of Leeds’ Under-23 side.
What sort of player is he?
You don't get a look in at Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa without being a ball-playing centre-back.
That said, he is very much a 'defend first and look for a pass later' kind of player.
He is good in the air thanks to his height and has made a bit of a name for himself for his last ditch tackles.
There was one block in the Premier League 2 this season against Aston Villa in injury time which particularly stands out.
Leeds were clinging on for victory (and the league title) and it summed him up - body on the line for the cause to block what looked to be a certain goal.
He celebrated the tackle as much as he would've a goal at the other end.
Casey's comfort on the ball and ability to pick a pass has become second nature thanks to the control Leeds like to implement across all teams.
He seems to be quite a versatile player, can he play central midfield as well as centre back?
Under Bielsa at Leeds no player is confined to just one position.
Casey is very much a central defender by trade but has been deployed and moulded into a defensive midfielder alongside his development.
He has been required there a few times throughout the season and has done well enough. Though I'm not convinced he would want to be playing in the middle on a regular basis as his strengths are mainly at the back.
Playing in midfield on occasion has certainly helped his passing ability.
He only signed a three-year contract last season, so he must be highly rated at Leeds?
At just 20 he has a very bright future.
Leeds do rate him highly but in the current squad it is hard to see where he would fit in at senior level.
Bielsa has an array of first team centre-backs - four, essentially - at his disposal and his partner at Under-23s level, Charlie Cresswell, is a little ahead of him in the pecking order and is also two years younger.
Casey featured twice last season in the League Cup against Hull City and the FA Cup in the shock defeat to Crawley Town which shows that Bielsa does like him.
Opportunities at Leeds are hard to see for him though and he may be best served taking the next step elsewhere.
He has been in the academy system from a young age and he's reaching a crucial stage of his development now.
Can you see him making the grade in the Championship?
The million dollar question.
He hasn't played any senior football consistently so until he is really tested it is a bit of an unknown.
Casey did, though, perform relatively well in the EFL Trophy this season against Barrow and Blackpool at development level.
He struck up a brilliant partnership with long-time friend and fellow academy graduate Cresswell, which helped the club to one of the best defensive records at Premier League 2 level.
The Championship can be a physical division and I would be intrigued to see if he stood up to that.
Is there anything else we should know about him?
Casey is coming off a hugely successful season for Leeds in the Under-23s ranks.
He helped United to promotion in the Premier League 2 and was also captain on several occasions.
It's hard to see whether he would get much out of playing another season at academy level, so a move makes the most sense to get his senior career up and running.
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