Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa declines to confirm if Illan Meslier will keep place with Kiko Casilla racism ban served

Marcelo Bielsa declined to confirm whether or not he'll stick with Illan Meslier in goal now that Kiko Casilla has served his ban for racism.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 1:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 1:10 pm
AVAILABLE - Kiko Casilla has served an eight game ban for racism and is now available for selection for Leeds United again. Pic: Getty
AVAILABLE - Kiko Casilla has served an eight game ban for racism and is now available for selection for Leeds United again. Pic: Getty

Casilla was Leeds United's first choice stopper for the vast majority of the 2019/20 campaign and kept 15 clean sheets from 35 league games, until he was handed an eight-game suspension having been found guilty of racially abusing Jonathan Leko in a game against Charlton back in September.

The Spaniard's ban presented an opportunity for 20-year-old Lorient loanee Meslier and the youngster has made a 'positive' impact ever since according to Bielsa.

Leeds have kept five clean sheets in Casilla's absence and conceded just four goals.

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The young Frenchman has looked assured between the posts and dealt well with plenty of pressure from Swansea set-pieces in the 1-0 win in Wales on Sunday. He did his popularity among the club's fans no harm by sprinting the length of the field to join in with the wild celebrations following Pablo Hernandez' 89th minute winner.

Bielsa was particularly impressed with a save Meslier made early in the second half, which the Argentine felt was harder than it looked.

But when asked today if Meslier would keep his position or make way for Casilla, Bielsa, who did suggest he was likely to field Ben White in midfield in place of the injured Kalvin Phillips against Barnsley on Thursday, did not want to reveal his goalkeeping decision until he had made the squad aware. Casilla has trained throughout the period since Leeds returned to Thorp Arch.

"I didn’t define the team yet so I prefer the players to know first and after I can make a statement," said the Whites head coach.

ASSURED - Illan Meslier's performances have belied his youth and inexperience, with five clean sheets in eight Championship games for Leeds United. Pic: Getty

With Casilla out, Bielsa has opted to have Kamil Miazek, 23, as his number two goalkeeper, leaving no place in the squad for 18-year-old January arrival Elia Caprile, for whom age and time spent at the club seem to have counted against him. But Bielsa is also content that Miazek has earned his spot and is good enough to provide back-up for Meslier.

"Caprile is a young keeper, he hasn’t been at the club a long time, but his evolution is positive," said Bielsa.

"Kamil now is in the second position because he deserves it a lot, because of his qualities and his hard work."