How did Paudie O'Connor fare on his Leeds United debut?

Paudie O'Connor.
Paudie O'Connor.
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Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom handed 20-year-old defender Paudie O'Connor his senior debut against Sunderland on Saturday - but how did he get on?

The Irishman made his first start for Leeds since making the switch from League of Ireland side Limerick to Thorp Arch last summer. O'Connor has captained Carlos Corberan's under-23's team this campaign before being called up to train with the first-team at Elland Road.

With a single fit centre-back fit for the visit of Chris Coleman's Black Cats, United boss Heckingbottom called him into first-team action.

O'Connor looked confident and assured throughout the opening exchanges despite a slight error in judgment in allowing Ashley Fletcher to ghost in behind for the visitors but the chance was cleared without any real danger.

His first involvement appeared to kick him into action.

There was no evidence of any rash decision making that you might attribute to a youngster making his debut, in fact, it was the complete opposite. The 20-year-old was confident on the ball and even drove on into the opposition half on a number of occasions picking out his team-mates with precision.

Pontus Jansson was relishing the role of mentor but O'Connor was certainly his own man pushing United on from the back with the ball at his feet and instructing the midfield in front of him.

Minutes into the second half disaster struck as the Whites back four fell asleep as one to let Paddy McNair ghost in and give the visitors the lead.

O'Connor's defining moment though came as he put in a strong tackle on Fletcher right in front of the United bench to stop a visitors counter attack - the effort was met with a rousing applause around the ground.

The Irishman's calmness evaded him for just a split second after Leeds had equalised through Pablo Hernandez as he threw himself in a challenge only to arrive late and catch Aidan McGeady.

Although he picked up a booking his full throttle approach stayed the same as the game came to a frantic end.

All in all O'Connor put on a strong display in the absence of other senior defenders and was only trumped by the performance of Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the United goal. The young defender has a rawness that is evident in his play but also the youthfulness of a no fear approach, one that Heckingbottom wants to instil into his side.

It was a strong start to life in the Championship for O'Connor in what was another disappointing display for the Whites on Saturday afternoon.

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