Pundit Exclusive: Two Leeds teens tipped for 1st XI promotion after Bielsa update
Noel Whelan has tipped Charlie Cresswell and Oliver Casey to make the step up to the Leeds United first team after Marcelo Bielsa revealed he would not be signing a new centre-back in January.
The former Leeds striker and boyhood fan at Elland Road, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes the Whites already have enough players who can fill in at the heart of the defence, even if they are not natural centre-halves.
Speaking at his press conference, as quoted by Leeds Live, Bielsa revealed he was not planning on bringing in a new defender despite injury blows to both Robin Koch, who could be out for as long as three months, and Diego Llorente.
Right-back Luke Ayling filled in at centre-back against West Ham on Friday night, while Kalvin Phillips and Pascal Struijk have also featured in makeshift roles.
Whelan believes that with the likes of teenage pair Cresswell and Casey coming through the ranks, Leeds should be able to cope with the loss of two of their senior stars.
“I think that’s really positive that Marcelo Bielsa has come out and underlined that on transfers and that there won’t be centre-halves coming in,” Whelan told Football Insider.
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“He feels there’s enough there, I definitely feel there’s enough there coming through with Casey and Cresswell at the football club. For me, it’s about giving those young lads the opportunity if he feels they’re ready for it.
“I don’t think we need another centre-half, he’s always adapted with players who can play different roles in the side, I think that’s one thing about Marcelo Bielsa and what he does do, he plans ahead.
“He likes to figure out if these two are injured, someone else can step in there. He’s one of these people that’s very intelligent in the way he buys people, brings them in and he can utilise them in different positions when necessary.”
Cresswell, 18, made his first-team debut against Hull City in the League Cup this season, while 19-year-old Casey has two senior appearances under his belt.
In other Leeds United news, Whelan left “shocked” after “serious” player news via Sky Sports.