As far as first team debuts go, they don’t get much more assured than Oliver Casey’s senior bow for Leeds United.
The teenager may have only been on the pitch for 10 minutes during the 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town back in December, but he didn’t put a foot wrong – quite literally.
The defender attempted a total of seven actions, and completed all of them with a 100% success rate, as per Wyscout.
Four passes, three duels won – including one aerial duel – and the academy prospect had made a very impressive start to life with the first team.
The only issue he faces now, however, is adding to those 10 minutes.
If Leeds go up this term, it’s hard to see him getting too many opportunities in the top flight, but benching him could be detrimental to his progress when he’s clearly ready to take the next step in his career.
As such, a loan move could prove to be the best option.
We’ve seen exactly how well this can work first hand this season, with Ben White dropping down from the Premier League to become one of our standout performers.
And on the basis of those 10 minutes, there’s no reason to suggest that Casey couldn’t do the same.
One passage of play in particular really highlighted just how much potential the youngster has.
In the image above, Casey is the Leeds player in the centre circle.
A ball has just been played out from the back by Huddersfield and they are looking to advance up the field with a simple pass into midfield.
Casey would have been well within his right to sit in and let that pass happen – there’s no immediate threat to his goal and plenty of potential opportunities for somebody else to derail the Terriers’ attack.
Instead, he assumes responsibility, reading the game and anticipating the danger brilliantly.
The youngster covers his ground well, before getting his foot in and making the tackle.
His body shape allows him to ease his opponent out of the way without committing the foul, and he shows good physical attributes to out-muscle his man on the half-turn.
The nicest part of all of this, however, is the composure he shows to get his head up after the duel to find a teammate.
It’s not a Hollywood pass by any means, but the simplicity of it shows a maturity and an appreciation for the virtues of keeping possession as a means of stunting an opponent’s momentum.
It may seem like a relatively small detail, but the understated, tidy manner in which Casey conducts himself is a credit to himself and the Leeds United academy system.
If there are any lower league clubs looking to take on a promising, accomplished young defender this summer, they could do a whole lot worse than the local starlet.
On the basis of what we’ve seen from him already, a stint away could bring him on leaps and bounds.
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