Oliver Casey made his debut for Leeds United on Saturday afternoon as Marcelo Bielsa’s side made it six league wins in a row with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town away from home – but could Casey’s debut see another player leave?
Gjanni Alioski scored a stunning volley while a perfect Jack Harrison cross found Pablo Hernandez at the back post to head home, giving Leeds another three points. They remain in second, with West Brom beating Swansea on Sunday.
Captain Liam Cooper was missing from the side due to injury, which saw Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi partner eachother at centre-back. Brighton loanee Ben White played in the holding midfield role.
That reshuffle at the heart of the Leeds defence saw Bielsa take along 19-year-old Oliver Casey, and the Leeds number 49 made his debut with five minutes to play – replacing Mateusz Klich and tasked with restoring Leeds’ clean sheet.
With Casey shining for the club’s Under-23 side and now making his debut for the senior side, it seems he has overtaken Pascal Struijk in the race for Leeds’ youngsters to break into the first team at centre-back.
Given that Casey is now in Bielsa’s plans, he could be the cover the Whites need at centre-back and has the potential to go on and become the next academy star to shine under the Argentine – joining Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke and plenty more.
But if Casey breaks through, could that see owner Andrea Radrizzani, executive Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta opt against offering Berardi a new deal – given the one-time Switzerland international’s contract expiring in the summer.
Berardi, who turns 32 next summer, is in the final months of his current deal after clocking up an enormous 144 appearances for the Whites since joining in the summer of 2014 – signed from Sampdoria by Massimo Cellino.
But with Casey coming in, Ayling, Stuart Dallas and Shackleton at right-back and Barry Douglas, Dallas and Alioski at left-back, could Berardi see his contract expire – rather than having it extended?