Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa shakes hands

Noel Whelan admits he was relieved to see Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier put in such a strong performance in the club’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

The former Leeds striker and lifelong fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that he was mightily impressed with what he saw from the 19-year-old in what was his debut for the club.

As reported by Football Insider, Meslier is set for an extended run in the side if Kiko Casilla is banned for racial abuse, the FA’s investigation still ongoing.

Having seen the youngster impress between the sticks at the Emirates Stadium, Whelan says he is relieved that the club appears to be in safe hands should Casilla be suspended.

“For such a young lad, stepping in on such a big stage, I thought his ball distribution, the way he handled himself was a real credit to himself and the faith Marcelo Bielsa’s put in him,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“If there is a ban that comes for Kiko Casilla, we now know we’ve got a more than capable young goalkeeper who can fill his boots.

“That’s where people’s biggest worry is, if a ban comes Kiko Casilla’s way and it is a lengthy ban, what do we have in replacement. Well, I think everybody saw Monday night, his ball distribution and confidence between the sticks fills us with great optimism that if there is a ban, we have somebody more than capable.”

Casilla had played every single minute of the club’s 2019/20 campaign prior to Meslier’s outing in north London, the Spaniard a firm favourite of Bielsa.

The French youngster’s only other senior experience has come at parent club Lorient, where he has 30 appearances under his belt.

In other Leeds United news, Whelan was left fuming over something he saw in the defeat to Arsenal.