By Alex McLeish

20th May, 2021 | 1:00pm

This may be real reason Casilla handed surprise Leeds return - ex-manager

Alex McLeish has suggested Marcelo Bielsa wanted to keep spirits high by handing Kiko Casilla a rare Leeds United start against Southampton.

The former Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 34-year-old will be frustrated playing second fiddle to the “incredible” Illan Meslier all season.

The Spanish shot-stopper came in for only his second league appearance of the season in Tuesday’s 2-0 win.

As quoted by Leeds Live at his post-match press conference, Bielsa confirmed Casilla would also start against West Brom.

McLeish admitted the former Real Madrid man would be frustrated playing backup to Meslier this term.

As such, he suggested the “good gesture” of starting him would keep morale high among the Leeds squad.

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McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “One of the problems a manager has during the entire season is sometimes to play the backup guys. 

“You can see, sometimes in the training ground or in the dressing room, that they’re down. They’re a bit down in their confidence or if not their confidence their demeanour in general. There’s nothing like giving them game time to get them back in the groove again.

“Let’s face it, Meslier has been incredible. A young boy with such consistency and amazing saves week in, week out. He should only get better which is a frightening prospect. To give the backup goalie some game time at the end of the season, it’s a matter of trust.

“Bielsa obviously trusts him, he can put him straight in. He did very well last night, the only one that beat him was the one that hit the bar. He still got right across the goal that shows his athleticism.

“It’s an incredible gesture by the manager, the player will be happy. He won’t be happy playing the whole season second fiddle to Meslier. He is very capable as well and it’s a gesture by the manager. It’s good for team spirit.”

Casilla has played just four times across all competitions this season.

He has a total of 61 appearances for Leeds under his belt.

In other news, Leeds United have scheduled talks to sign 27-goal/assist attacker.