Northern Ireland manager sends message to Leeds' Alfie McCalmont

A general view of Elland Road Stadium prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England.

Leeds United's Championship star Alfie McCalmont has a big admirer in Marcelo Bielsa - and Michael O'Neill is a fan too.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park on October 5, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Leeds United starlet Alfie McCalmont made his international debut as Northern Ireland beat Luxembourg at Windsor Park on Thursday night but manager Michael O’Neill has warned the teenager that he still has a ‘long way’ to go, speaking to the BBC.

At the age of just 19, Thirsk-born McCalmont has earned a first cap for his country. A talented young midfielder who has represented the Northern Ireland from U17 to U21 level, he came off the bench for the final half hour as the Green and White Army secured a narrow 1-0 win against one of the minnows of European football.

McCalmont, as he has done whenever he’s worn the white of Leeds, looked calm and composed throughout, displaying the kind of technical ability that has caught the eye of Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road.

 

But O’Neill was keen to play down the rising expectations placed on his young stars after the game.

“They’re still a long way away from potentially playing on a regular basis at international level, particularly young Alfie,” he told the BBC.

“They’re still establishing themselves at youth level, they’re ones for the future.”

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off first leg between Northern Ireland and Switzerland at Windsor Park on November 9, 2017 in Belfast,...

There was certainly an experimental feel to the Northern Ireland team with Cardiff City defender Ciaran Brown and Manchester United’s Ethan Galbraith making their debuts alongside McCalmont when Luxembourg came to town.

But as long as McCalmont continues to impress in West Yorkshire, he should be confident of adding to a single international cap.

A general view of the Billy Bremner statue outside Elland Road during the Pre Season Friendly match between Leeds United and Everton at Elland Road on August 1, 2015 in Leeds, England.

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