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.”
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.
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