By Football Insider speaking to Kevin Campbell

5th Mar, 2020 | 12:09pm

'Big blow' - Exclusive: Bruce reacts to confirmed absence of 'Vital' Leeds player

Alex Bruce admits that losing Kiko Casilla will be a “big blow” for Leeds United after being handed an eight-game suspension.

The former Leeds and Hull defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists that the Spanish shot-stopper has been a “vital” part of the club’s push for promotion.

The 33-year-old has been banned after being found guilty of using racist language towards Jonathan Leko back in September, Illan Meslier taking his place in the starting XI.

Having seen the Spaniard play a big role in the Whites’ season so far, Bruce admits he will be a big miss for Bielsa but also condemns the player’s behaviour.

“To lose your goalkeeper at this stage of the season is a big blow but listen, if he’s been found guilty of doing what he’s done then he obviously deserves his punishment,” Bruce told Football Insider.

“It’s just going to be one of them where they hope the second-choice goalkeeper can come in and handle the pressure because it’s a vital position on the pitch, a goalkeeper.

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“They’ll be hoping he can come in and do the job but obviously it’s a big blow for them.” 

Casilla played 35 times in the Championship this season prior to his ban, keeping a total of 15 clean sheets.

Meslier, whose only prior appearance for Leeds came in the FA Cup, managed to keep Hull City at bay on his first league start.

In other Leeds United news, Danny Mills has revealed what he finds “incredible” surrounding Kiko Casilla’s FA ban.