Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas have heaped praise on midfielder Alfie McCalmont after the youngster made his debut for Leeds United as a substitute against Salford City on Tuesday night.
McCalmont, 19, starred for the Leeds Under-23 side last season and even captained them on occasion, guiding Carlos Corberan’s side towards success in the Professional Development League North.
The midfielder already has five caps for Northern Ireland’s Under-19 side and even appeared on the bench for the Under-21 side, and his rapid progress has now seen him become the latest to make his debut under Marcelo Bielsa.
McCalmont will be hoping he can follow the likes of Jamie Shackleton, Leif Davis, Jack Clarke and others into the senior side – and both Cooper and Dallas have predicted his debut is just first of many Leeds appearances to come.
First of many mate! Buzzing for you 👊🏻 https://t.co/abAEJoTSFn
— Liam Cooper 💙💛 (@LiamCooper__) August 14, 2019
TBR’s view – McCalmont more than deserving of Leeds place
But he will struggle to become a regular in Marcelo Bielsa’s side. Clarke and Shackleton both made upwards of 20 appearances last season, because they play in positions that required cover.
Out wide, Leeds lacked options and the rise of Clarke saw him play 25 times. Similarly, Shackleton broke in at right-back and midfield – showing versatility and quality in both roles.
For McCalmont, though, he is naturally a holding midfielder and he will struggle to break his way past Kalvin Phillips who is arguably the club’s best and most important player. It may interrupt his rise.