Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan was impressed with goalkeeper Illan Meslier following his performance in the Whites’ 4-0 win against Hull City on Saturday.
The French goalkeeper joined the club on loan from Lorient in the summer but has been back-up to Kiko Casilla for the majority of the season.
However, the Spaniard was given an eight-match ban by the Football Association last week after being found guilty of racially abusing Charlton Athletic’s Jonathan Leko (BBC Sport). As a result, Meslier made his first Championship appearance for the West Yorkshire outfit at the KCOM Stadium (Transfermarkt).
His performance certainly impressed Whelan, who felt that whilst it was a fairly quiet game for him he still commanded his area well when necessary.
Speaking about Meslier’s display against the Tigers, Whelan told Football Insider: “Fantastic. The lads in front of him protected him really well throughout the game. He did not have a great deal to do so it was not a bad game for him to make his debut and come in after Kiko Casilla.
“The team did a great job of protecting the young boy and that is what he needed on his Championship debut. He started off a little bit shaky in the game with a few passes because his ball distribution is normally very good, we saw that against Arsenal.
“I have got to say when the ball was up in the air he was not shy about coming out and collecting that ball which really took the pressure off the goalmouth. It is a good start for him.”
Whelan is right here, Meslier was a little shaky at the start in terms of his passing, he misplaced nine passes in the match (SofaScore), but steadily grew into the game and ended up making a solid Championship debut.
Indeed, he finished the match with a clean sheet having made two saves, one of which came from inside the box. Added to that, he also made two high claims, one clearance and won one aerial duel in the 90 minutes, finishing with a solid SofaScore rating of 7.4.
He now has a huge role to play between now and the end of the season. There are just 10 games remaining and Casilla will be missing for seven of those, so it is down to the 19-year-old to play between the sticks for the next few weeks.
Leeds are currently in the automatic promotion places, five points clear of Fulham in third place (BBC Sport). They will need Meslier to continue to perform well if they are to retain that position.
Leeds fans, what were your thoughts on Illan Meslier’s performance against Hull City? Let us know below…
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