It’s no secret that centre-back is a position of need for Leeds United. We’ve been hoping for reinforcements at the position, and it finally seems that help is on the horizon. But for the time being, Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper are the only centre-backs on the senior team.
Enter Paudie O’Connor. The 19-year-old centre-back has the biggest chance of his young career, as Thomas Christiansen has picked him to train with the first team across preseason.
Paudie O’Connor started playing football for hometown club Limerick and was a part of Super Blues first team since 2015. He played 23 times in the First Division last season, netting two goals. After his contract expired, the Irishman joined Leeds U23 three months ago following a successful trial. O’Connor was also being pursued by the likes of Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
I think it’s a great sign that Thomas Christiansen isn’t afraid to integrate youth talent in with the senior team. The Whites’ U23 team had a poor season last year, only managing to win six games overall. This led to many changes, including the departure of squad manager Jason Blunt, who has since gone on to join Mousehole AFC (yes, that’s a real club). Many players were also let go from the team, including the likes of Billy Whitehouse and Jack Vann.
That being said, there is still a lot of exciting young players in our system. Signing Liverpool’s Madger Gomes not only improves the chances of the U23 team having a successful season but can also kickstart a wave of players coming through our youth system and consistently contribute to the first team. Recently, the like of Ronaldo Vieira, Kalvin Phillips, Lewie Coyle, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tyler Denton, and Snake Taylor have gone on to sign professional contracts and contribute to the first team. But as we approach the beginning of the Thomas Christiansen era at Elland Road, Paudie O’Connor and Madger Gomes can be the first of many to come through the academy and contribute to the senior team.
I’m all for the idea of integrating U23 guys in with the first team for preseason training, but what about YOU? Let me know in the comments. MOT