Leeds United U21 manager Michael Skubala has dropped an update on central midfielder Alfie McCalmont.
What’s been said?
In recent comments cited by Leeds Live, the U21s head coach revealed that, despite the 22-year-old being yet to feature under the management of Jesse Marsch, the Northern Ireland international remains in good spirits at Thorp Arch, before hinting that the playmaker is hoping to push for a place in the first-team squad upon the return of club football later this year.
Regarding the current mindset of the midfielder, Skubala said:
“He’s good. He’s a good young man, he’s a top trainer, a top athlete, he has a top attitude and he’s doing well. We just have to keep working on his game and keep trying to progress him and adding to his game and, hopefully, he can keep being stretched.”
Considering just how much promise McCalmont has shown both for the U21s and while on loan at Oldham Athletic in 2020/21, coupled with Mateusz Klich having struggled for form so far this season, it would appear an extremely wise move for Marsch to start giving the 22-year-old more first-team minutes in place of the World Cup reject in the second half of the campaign.
Indeed, over McCalmont’s 38 League Two appearances for the Latics in 20/21, the £175k-rated talent was in sensational attacking form, scoring eight goals, registering five assists and creating four big chances for his teammates, in addition to taking an average of 1.2 shots, making 0.9 key passes and playing 3.2 long balls per game.
The academy graduate also impressed in metrics more typical of his position, making an average of 1.5 tackles, 1.3 interceptions, 0.7 clearances and winning 2.9 duels per outing.
These returns saw the player who Ian Baraclough labelled a “little terrier” average an eye-catching SofaScore match rating of 6.89, ranking him as Oldham’s joint fifth-best performer in the fourth tier of English football that season.
The four-cap international also impressed during a loan spell with League One side Morecambe FC last season – bagging one goal, providing two assists and creating two big chances in the league – while the youngster has also been a crucial part of Skubala’s U21 side in the current campaign – scoring one goal and registering two assists over six Premier League 2 appearances.
As such, with the 32-year-old Klich – who is yet to start a Premier League game this season, and has averaged an extremely disappointing SofaScore match rating of 6.55 when he has been on the pitch – looking to be on his way out of Elland Road, it would seem a wise move for Marsch to start to unleash McCalmont in the £34k-per-week passenger’s place.
Indeed, not only would the youngster appear to have a much brighter future than the Poland international, but, should the 22-year-old impress in the top flight, he could well catch the eye of one or two Championship teams should Marsch wish to move him on further down the line.