During the summer Leeds United let go of both Aapo Halme and Hugo Diaz, with one going to Barnsley and the other being released. At the time, many Leeds fans who watch the under 23’s regularly were surprised by the decision. However the club had a clear plan and this was to promote both Charlie Cresswell and Olly Casey. The latter had already played for the under 23’s last season and impressed. Eighteen months ago Casey was playing for the under 18’s and now he’s making his debut for the first team at the age of 18. As a junior he played for Wigton Moor Juniors and was asked at the age of seven to attend a Leeds United development centre. He progressed to the shadow squad and played for Leeds City boys where he started out as a striker. At the age of 10 Andy Wood signed him to the academy and has been there ever since. He’s currently in the second year of a two year professional contract and will be looking to earn a new one before the season is out. He was named apprentice of the year in 2019 and his fine performances for both the under 18’s and the under 23’s over the year has earned him his rightful place in the first team squad.
Finding a defender in today’s game that loves to defend but can also play out from the back is hard to come by. Casey very much fits the bill, he started out as a striker when he was younger but since joining the academy, he soon found the love and passion for defending. He’s got a great ability to read the game and sniff out any danger, this is partially down to his past experience as a striker. Standing at 6ft 3, this allows him to be dominate in aerial battles and is very handy at attacking set pieces, both defensively and offensively. Having just turned 19, he’s still got time to grow and become stronger but is still currently a physically strong player. This helps him when defending and whispers from inside the club suggest that the first team players have a difficult time beating him in training. His primary position is a centre back but at times this season he has played in defensive midfield, which shows the ability he has on the ball. His passing range is very good and is more than capable of playing out from the back, which is something Marcelo Bielsa expects from his defenders. Bielsa judges youth team players ability and personality based off how the other first team players take to them. He only trusts players if other first team players trust them, so to be trusted by his fellow team mates, is a big indication of Olly’s ability and attitude.
Despite his impressive ability on the ball and the use of it, at times, Olly is guilty of over playing and giving the ball away in dangerous places. As he progresses through the levels, he’ll get punished more, however with first team experience and the pressure of it, he’ll improve his decision making. Over eagerness is also likely a factor, being a massive Leeds fan and coming from a family of massive Leeds fans, Olly will be wanting to impress. I’m sure those around him, both family and teammates will support him and give him advice when needed. Liam Coopers experience and leadership combined with Ben White’s class and composure, Olly Casey has two perfect role models to improve his game. In terms of pace, Olly doesn’t glide across the pitch like White but certainly isn’t no slouch. His reading of the game helps him a lot and it’s only really when there is a turnover of possession and he’s out of shape that to really effects him. Against tall and less mobile strikers, Casey deals with them with ease. Against the more pacey strikers and tricky ones, he does struggle more. This being said, it’s certainly not an area of his game that is a concern.
With just six months left on his current deal, it’s vital that the club tie him down to a new deal. Being a massive Leeds fan and Leeds lad, I’m sure he wants to stay at the club. Olly’s goals over the next year will be to play more minutes for the first team and learn as much as he can from the likes of Ben White and Liam Cooper. I’d expect to see him continue to play regularly for the under 23’s and make sub appearances for the first team. Overall, Casey is a very talented player that is also a focused and grounded lad that still lives at home. He is also very popular with his under 23’s team mates and will be hoping his performances this season will lead to a England youth team call up.
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